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WebMage (Ravirn, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – July 25, 2006

3.8 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Webmage Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Remember the Fates, those ancient Greek spinners, weavers and snippers of life's threads? They're back in McCullough's original and outstanding debut, and still ruling destiny—but with their own digital web, based on a server called the Fate Core. Power-hungry as ever, they've coded a spell to eliminate human free will. Unluckily for them, one of their demigod descendants is a cheerfully rebellious hacker-sorcerer named Ravirn who, when not studying for college midterms, likes to mess around on their web with the help of his familiar, Melchior, who can change from a goblin to a laptop. Ravirn and Melchior, let loose in McCullough's delightfully skewed and fully formed world—much like our own, but with magic, paranormally advanced technology and Greek gods—set out to thwart Ravirn's "great-to-the-nth-degree aunt[s]," careening from one discovery to another, enlisting unlikely allies and narrowly evading destruction at the hands of both Fates and Furies. McCullough handles his plot with unfailing invention, orchestrating a mixture of humor, philosophy and programming insights that give new meaning to terms as commonplace as "spell checker" and esoteric as "programming in hex." Though a preponderance of techie-talk may put off some readers, this is the kind of title that could inspire an army of rabid fans; it's a good thing a sequel is planned for 2007. (Aug.)
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From Booklist

Although it's yet another variation on mythological creatures interacting with IT, this fast-paced, action-packed yarn is a lot of fun. Ravirn, the multi-great-grandson of the Fate Lachesis (who measures the thread of life), is in trouble. Great-aunt Atropos (who cuts it) has decided that human free will is a great nuisance. She plans to get rid of it by coding a spell into the Fate Core, the server that rules destiny. But there's a problem with the spell. Dedicated hacker Ravirn can catch the fatal flaw in any software but refuses to debug it, in fact is determined to defeat the project. All Hades breaks loose and starts pursuing him. His only allies are his familiar, his gorgeous cousin (a mean programmer herself), and the webgoblin underground. Then Discord and the Furies get involved. McCullough has done an excellent job of weaving myth, magic, IT jargon, and the English language into a bang-up story. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; Reprint edition (July 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441014259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441014255
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mel Odom VINE VOICE on August 8, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Rivirn is a cutting-edge sorcerer/computer hacker who combines both skills to stay alive after he inadvertently becomes locked in conflict with one of his great-to-the-nth-degree-aunts, Atropos, one of the three Fates from Greek mythology. As it turns out, all the Greek gods, goddesses and demigods truly exist out in the world. Ravirn is part of the family and possesses both magical ability and incredible strength and healing that set him far beyond anything human. The problem is, although potentially immortal, he can still be killed. Bound by a Cassandra spell (no one will believe anything he says, especially against Atropos), Ravirn tries desperately to locate and shut down the magical program known as Puppeteer. Aided by the few friends he has (including a laptop/demon he created/programmed named Melchior), Ravirn speeds through shadowy side-worlds both magical and cybernetic in nature -- usually with fierce foes nipping at his heels.

WEBMAGE is Kelly McCullough's first novel. His second, also featuring Ravirn and company, comes out next year. Several of his short stories have been published, and he was one of the Writers of the Future.

Gripping and imaginative, rooted carefully in the real world, WEBMAGE is an exciting chase novel filled with techno jargon the cyber-crowd will enjoy as well as Greek mythology for the fantasy enthusiasts. The first-person narrative rings especially true and drives the tale. Dialogue between Ravirn and Melchior is sharp and cutting, and sounds like two old friends who constantly pick at each other. The add-on features to the real world are consistent (always a plus in fantasy) and well thought-out.

Fans of Roger Zelazny's AMBER books, and especially JACK OF SHADOWS, will enjoy this fun romp, which promises to be the first of a series. Packed with action, mythology, humor, and a resonance of true relationships, WEBMAGE is a great read.
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On a technical level (no pun intended), this book is well-written, plotted, and structured. It had a pretty hefty theme of free will vs. fate, and it tends to dominate all else. Sometimes, I had the feeling that the characters' motivations for various actions had more to do with the theme than anything arising from their own natures. This includes the romance, and much of the male lead's behavior. The times he goes into flowery high court mode read false and contrived, as if he were reciting something he memorized but didn't really understand and wasn't all that interested in.

Strike one for romance.

There's a lot of hardcore net geekery (to a very casual user like me, anyway) that often made me skim long sections rather than read. That was something of an occupational hazard, I knew it was going to be a techno-magic fantasy. Still got boring.

The characters' appeareances were cliched (c'mon, pointed ears? Just because they were descended from the Fates? And how, exactly, did that happen? There's *nothing* in the mythology that indicates the Fates had consorts, so how exactly did they get these century-sprawling bloodlines?)

Strike two. It helps when the reader can understand the setting and the magic system.

Lastly--I honestly didn't *care* about any of the characters. I wasn't all that bothered by Fate winning, or Eris' predicament, or the fate of the young lovers. The hero was brash and daring because Hacker Heroes should be iconoclasts. The heroine was fierce and devoted and equally predictable.

It's an intelligent book, a decent read for the money, but I don't consider it a keeper.
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I'm going to start this review with a slight seque - long ago while I was taking a term off to work in a bookstore I decided I would write me a novel. It was a sarcastic in-joke kind of thing that lampooned many of my friends and was all doctored up with references to Norse legends. The good news is that it was never published and lies mouldering to this day in my secret cellars. The bad news is that I failed to contain the virus and it has gone and infected Kelly McCullough. In those days the height of technology was a 110 baud teletype, now we have 1 gigabit LAN drops. It never rains, but it pours.

McCullough uses two primary premises to fuel his plot. First of all, the real true universe is run by the whole cast of Greek gods. In particular, the fates, Clotho, Atropos, and Lachesis. Secondly, ritual magic has been replaced by digital magic. The Fates have their own magical internet, Eris - the goddess of discord - has hers, and all the lesser godlets have goblin or troll familiars that feature the latest in flat screen monitors and cool keyboards. Ravirn, the central character, makes a habit of getting in trouble with his grandmother and her sisters. The kind of trouble that is likely to get his thread snipped if he doesn't watch out.

Well, as you might expect, Ravirn, college student and hacker, rarely watches out. Atropos asks him to debug a program for her, one that will severely alter the balance between chaos and law. In a rare flash of integrity Ravirn refuses and his great aunt sets about making his life hades. Ravirn and his trusty familiar Melchior jump from crisis to crisis, making it clear that, even though Ravirn is defending free will, he doesn't have a clue how to use it.
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