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Dagger Magic (Book 4) Hardcover – May 1, 1995
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From School Library Journal
YA-Lovers of romance, fantasy, and continuing sagas will have a delightful vacation with this stand-alone fourth novel in the series. Peregrine Lovat interrupts his honeymoon to join Sir Adam Sinclair and Detective Chief Inspector Noel McLeod as they search for the ancient, evil Dagger Cult in an attempt to save the world from a new Nazi menace. The pace never slackens as seemingly disparate threads are woven together in this page-turning adventure.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
An evil cult is looking to revive Nazi Germany sentiments, while supernatural forces are creating murder and mayhem in the process. Enter the Adept, who can thwart the rise of evil in the country through his secret Hunt brotherhood. And enter a host of characters who become entangled in a series of confrontations and struggles. -- Midwest Book Review
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When I see that the book's got a swastika on the cover, has a title like "Dagger Magic", and the synopsis talks about crashed Nazi submarines and Nazi black magic threatening the free world, my attention is piqued.
Too bad 3/4 of the book is dominated by a wedding party, the honeymoon of two characters, and the investigation of a completely unrelated side-plot involving a woman astral-projecting and unknowingly causing accidents on a freeway.
The book opens by introducing the Nazi submarine and having ominous Tibetan monks killing some coast guard employees, and then the entire Nazi plot that the book is allegedly about doesn't come up again for a full 220 pages when the "bad guys" finally reveal what their devious plan actually is.
Even then, the "bad guys" don't get anywhere near the submarine to even execute their plan until after page 300. And despite this, the book is dominated by a whole lot of inane talking and not a lot of doing.
To make it even worse, in a book dominated by dialogue, every character sounds the same, except for a couple mercenaries who show up around page 300 and then end up getting killed 10 pages later. Every character "murmurs" and "grins wryly".
I should have learned my lesson after I picked up 'Lammas Night' by Katherine Kurtz for the same exact reason I picked this book up. 'Lammas Night' was plagued by similar problems - every character sounded the same and did a whole lot of (often repetitive) talk and very little interesting action.
Maybe I'd have liked 'Dagger Magic' more if I was a fan of the series it's a part of, but the book really felt like a bait-and-switch based on the description and I ended up being bored to tears.
Ludlum, Follett and Forsyth could do no better in creating mesmerizing plot elements. Added to this, DAGGER MAGIC has a wonderful subplot about a character's past life incarnation that is impinging disastrously on the present day. Kurtz and Turner Harris' writing is detailed and gives the reader a fine sense of place.
So why only two stars?
Essentially because although DAGGER MAGIC is a quality work it's becoming very evident that THE ADEPT is getting tired. After taking a hiatus from the Lodge of the Lynx in THE TEMPLAR TREASURE, Kurtz and Turner Harris have yoked this novel to the further adventures of Lynx-Master Francis Raeburn. Somehow, you know you've read it before. It's obvious from the outset that Raeburn is going to manage to elude Sir Adam Sinclair's Hunting Lodge yet again, leading us into Book Five.
Frankly, Raeburn isn't that interesting or that evil. Kurtz and Turner Harris haven't given the character any depth or complexity. He may be the Master of a Black Lodge but he's far too au courant to make you cheer for his downfall. Raeburn is a caricature of a nasty politician or a bad boss, not a picture of a man dedicated to all forms of wickedness. He seems to have no particular vices other than a yen for personal power, and so what? In short, Aleister Crowley he ain't.
What the esteemed Lynx-Master should be doing is seducing schoolgirls, smoking opium, and funding assassination squads, not examining ancient grimoires with a magnifying glass. What a dangerous pastime for a man to cultivate. The worst thing I can say about Raeburn is that he's rude and treats the servants like coolies. Hardly a fit heir for all the evils of the world.
By making their primary bad guy such a milquetoast, Kurtz and Turner Harris have practically guaranteed that the epic battle between good and evil that is the backbone of this series degenerates into a proxy fight between the impeccably tailored Sir Adam and the equally impeccably tailored Raeburn.
I'd like to like this book. The earlier volumes all have a quirky charm which is not missing here, but this book probably would be much better if the authors had put less effort into moving their continuing plotline along and more into good plain storytelling. As it is, despite it's strengths, DAGGER MAGIC doesn't stick with you.