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Half Magic Paperback – March 31, 1999
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A warning to parents who are offended by violence. There is a scene in which 2 knights bascially butcher each other to death (only to be quickly reassembled by magic minutes later). It's a relatively bloodless scene given what actually happens, and I personally am not bothered by this sort of stuff in kids books nor are my kids. For example there is some gruesome and macabre action in The Witches. But it is worth noting and if you're bothered by that you may want to skip it or avoid the book. You could skip it - it comes soon after they meet Sir Launcelot - without missing the flow of the story.
Note to publisher....the kindle for iPad version we read had quite a few typos in it...far more than I've ever seen in any format. There were sections we had to reread several times to decipher.
Half Magic is written in that wonderful, light, easy 'fifties style that gets so easily overlooked in favor of more extreme excitements. Later discovered, though, one simply wonders how writing could have ever been this good. A wonderfully understated example is shown in the genial attitude of the good samaritan stranger who helps out the young adventurers. He's first respectful of their mother,then falls more and more in love as the book goes on. This undercurrent is so subdued and tasteful that it's barely noticeable amid the magical misadventures until the conclusion of the book.
The Leave it to Beaver approach to problem solving is also delighfully refreshing--the spells only half work; unlike the obvious fantasy formulae in countless later books and movies, the magic leaves plenty of room for human ingenuity and skill,as well as the need to make decisions. Eager's other great fantasy, Knight's Castle, also continues in this vein, the hyjinks and hilarity deriving from,and always affirming,the human.