Most helpful critical review
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Really bizarre - I'll explain
on January 25, 2012
I wanted to give this book both a 5 star rating and a 1 star rating. It is, in essence, a very schizophrenic read.
What made the book great:
It had a really complex weave of timelines to follow, it's exactly how I would imagine someone like Tezzeret and Nicol Bolas would think and interact. Pretty entertaining.
What made the book terrible:
I don't know if the author knows much about MTG or even cares, and what's worse is that I don't know what kind of nonsense is going on with the dialogue sometimes. I'm wasn't expecting a literary work of art, but when I read a fantasy book I want to experience another world. Mr. Stover constantly ruins any semblance of immersion. This is a dialogue heavy book, but there is nothing more mind wrenching than when you're going along reading about all sorts of crazy magical happenings and Tezzeret (a master artificer) says to a 25,000 year old dragon:
"I have two words for you old wurm." I held up a finger. "Dental." I folded that finger and lifted the next. "Floss."
Really? What the hell is that? Is that how planeswalker speak? Really? Just bizarre. And that's not the only time, the text is filled with present day colloquialisms which destroy the flow of the book if only because they make you stop and say, "Wait, what?" Again, I don't expect overly pretentious dialogue, but I expect it to be consistent with the world that I'm reading about.
Half the time I was expecting Tezzeret to say, "Yo sup dawg" whenever Baltrice showed up. It's just that weird. Not to pile on, but oftentimes the casual dialogue between characters makes them feel like middle schoolers watching a movie together. I know someone will say, "That's just the style of the writing." But it isn't! And that's the thing, it's split. Half the time you're going along reading a high fantasy novel, then you're hit with lines or paragraphs of really silly junk.
Here's a perfect example of that jump between sentences one directly following the other:
"That's what they call it where I come from. KISS. 'Keep It Simple Stupid.'"
"An elegant phrasing, and proper advice," I said. "However, simple comes in a variety of sizes and colors. We're assuming, for example, that all those zombies are the work of one necromancer."
Instead of using a cliche that middle managers use when trying to give advice, why not say something like, "Where I'm from we say, 'Unnecessary complexity is the result of a feeble mind." Then, it at least matches the writing style that follows.
In closing, if you read Agents of Artifice and wanted to see where it went and you can stomach some oddity, give this book a shot. If you haven't, I can't honestly recommend it even though you don't need the background to understand what's going on; it's just that I couldn't understand the motivation to do so.