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The Luckless Mage of Greidwhen Academy by David Daulton

 

A TOURNAMENT OF SORCERERS . . .  AND THE MISFIT WHO ENTERED IT.

Ever since she was a little girl, Lucy Hardtvelt has wanted to attend the same academy of magic her mother had graduated from, as well as compete in the same, famous Sorcerers Tournament hosted there every year. And finally, after having her application accepted, Lucy is jubilant to begin her first year at the prestigious Greidwhen Academy for Mages.

Unfortunately, Lucy soon finds that, unlike her mother, she herself has little to no aptitude in the magical art—struggling to keep even the most basic of spells from blowing up in her face.

Now, having been given a harsh dose of reality, Lucy must find out if she has what it takes not only to survive at Greidwhen, but also the Sorcerer’s Tournament and its one-thousand contestants where the winner will be given the title of Champion Sorcerer, as well as the right to challenge the Celestial Mages—who are known to have been defeated only a handful of times . . . 


A serialized novel, updating sporadically

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Listed: Mar 9, 2019

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Neville in the spotlight

By theredsheep, author of Pyrebound

Apr 6, 2019: It’s not high art. It won’t teach you any grand lessons about the human condition. As the self-described amateur author’s preface admits, it isn’t even particularly well-written. But you know what? That’s okay. It knows what it’s trying to do, it does it, and it doesn’t put on airs. That’s worth something.

What we have here is essentially Harry Potter with a female Neville Longbottom as the hero. It’s a wizarding school without the shadow of Voldemort; the drama so far revolves around Lucy being in so grossly over her head that she’s the laughingstock of the school and faces expulsion if she doesn’t turn it around sharply. The blurb hints at higher stakes, but it’s a young story yet.

What’s good? The author obviously put considerably greater thought into the nuts and bolts of his magic system than one sees at Hogwarts, so if you ever got annoyed by J.K. Rowling’s "oh, well, they have a workaround for that bloody obvious exploit your eight-year-old just thought of," you have a much lower chance of seeing that here. It also doesn’t overdo it on the introspective angst, and doesn’t stop to shove irrelevant worldbuilding trivia down your throat like you’re a foie gras goose. That’s two distressingly common pitfalls avoided. In general, it moves briskly.

What’s bad? The writing, as noted, isn’t terrific, but mostly it suffers from bloat—many details are described with two words where one would do, and there are a bunch of unnecessary explanatory clauses. If the author learned to trust himself and his readers with tight prose, that would take care of eighty percent of it. And, to be fair, it’s YA, so beating your reader upside the head with the point is not a mortal sin. This tale isn’t half as inhumane about it as, say, Divergent. More seriously, the characters are fairly cardboard at this point, especially the stock-sadist villain. And it uses "whom" for "who" several times. I have killed men for less.

What’s the bottom line? If you’re waiting for a bus and need something clean, sweet, and straightforward, you could do worse.

5 of 5 members found this review helpful.
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