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It takes balls to make a street thief into a lady
on May 27, 2005
"The Magician's Ward" is set in a fantasy Regency England featuring Richard Merrill, a.k.a. Mairelon the Magician, who turns out to be a toff, and his ward Kim, the former street thief. Genre-wise, it is a regency romance with an overlay of fantasy. Those who prefer their fantasy straight up might be bored with all of the romance bits: Aunt Agatha's attempts to introduce her 'niece' to Polite Society and find her a husband; all of the long, dull trips to the modiste; the requisite carriage ride through Hyde Park; the coming-out ball; the visit to the opera and various upper-crust house parties. Blah blah. Regency romance aficionados could write these parts in their sleep.
The less structured part of the novel involves magic. A burglar dressed like a gentleman attempts to steal a book from the Mairelon's library. Kim visits one of her former friends, a used clothes merchant, and learns that a moneylender of their acquaintance is scarpering up all of London's street magicians for his own nefarious purposes. Somehow, the moneylender coordinates an attack on one of the street witches, then Mairelon, himself. Both are stripped of their magic, and one eventually goes crazy.
Kim must somehow rescue her guardian and restore his magic while attending to the details of her coming-out ball, and all of the other fripperies and fribbles that Regency society demands of her.
This book is an improvement over its predecessor, "Mairelon the Magician" (1991), but Hutch is still chewing on his damn mustache, and most of the characters, with the exception of Kim and Mairelon are 'borrowed' whole-cloth from a million other regencies