- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 13 hours and 21 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.com Release Date: September 29, 2012
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B009J7R4D6
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Magic Casement: A Man of His Word, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
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Anyway I'm glad I read till the end. The series has an interesting conclusion and Inos is finally likeable.
That said there were elements that I had to work hard at overlooking because they kept kicking me out of the story:
1. First chapter/s: This is the "0" setting, the place of entry into the world of the Magic Casement. It was awful...silly even. Because of it I nearly quit the story before I had even started. Anyone who has ever seen one of the modern day fairy tale based dramatic series will know what I mean... the liberties taken with the conventional tropes is hopelessly anachronistic and painful to behold. Take modern anti-traditional, gum snapping, egalitarian, morally and gender ambivalent sensibilities and impose them on a medieval society and have them taken as more or less normative. It's like Piers Anthony wanted to help, but Duncan kept slapping his hand away. The mangled tropes aren't pushed hard enough to make the material comic but it leans heavily and cumbersomely in that direction for the first chapter or two before transitioning to a more reader friendly serious fantasy with lighter comic touches here and there.
The worst offending trope in these opening chapters is the Princess, Insolan. She feels imported from one of the Disney channel tween kid shows...fresh out of a west coast middle school. I believe Duncan was trying to start her off as a pout prone petulant teenager type who feels constrained by her role in life, and has a lot of growing up to do. Thankfully, she does. Duncan handles the growing up bit much much better over the course of the series. But at the first she is cast basically as a modern western teenage stereotype thrust into a preindustrial, aristocratic, hierarchical world and it doesn't work. Not for me. The first several pages were so groan worthy when it came to her I had to wonder how Duncan managed to get this book published. My sense of disbelief was not so much being suspended as being hanged, drawn and quartered. But...really it did get better, much better.
2. The second flaw involves Duncan's naming conventions, and it persists throughout the series. There's a Piers Anthony level silliness that doesn't fit the tone of series. Consider the dominant race (of humans...essentially) are the imps, and they rule a big portion of the world in (get this) an "impire." The imps seem to be more or less the standard human norm, slightly to the greasy used car salesman/barfly/pompous bureaucrat end of the spectrum. Then there are lithe, golden, mincing, effete, and slightly homopedoey elves; the stout churlish tempered dwarves; over sexed. blue haired mermen; pale flaxen-haired Jotan (giants...not really giants...just very big bloodlusty men...think comic book viking), gnomes (nose picking, rat eating, pint sized trailer trash of this universe), Trolls (hulking behemoths...just think Hulk but not as handsome, not as smart, and not green) who are the far to the large size human. We cannot forget the hairy legged flat nosed fauns, the red skinned, hook nosed, man's man's man, deeply misogynistic Djinn (the "Arab"/Prince of Persia caricature culture of this world). Of all the races only the utterly monochrome...pure ebony colored fairies have any sort of innate magic of substance. Basically Duncan just took stock storybook creature/monster names and assigned them to a very racially diverse humanity whose features/characteristics suggest the standard mythos without actually being it.
On top of that personal and place names, as well as cultural items such as furniture, fabric, dance types are a mishmash, a veneer that cannot make sense naturally in this world...how is there damask without a Damascus? How are there minuettes and ballet without French? Where and how do Semitic personal names get mixed willy nilly with Germainic/Anglo names which is common for our culture...but seems to have no historical, explanatory antecedent in Duncan's world. Then there is the whole almost but not quite Catholic Church clerical system overlaid upon a pagan religious establishment...it feels just shy of an idea for a Monty Python sketch in places. The saving grace here is that these aspects don't get a lot of stage time...but when they do they standout like a Hawaiian shirt at a white tie dinner.
If one can ignore this sort of thing, then it doesn't get in the way of the development of the characters and the progress of the story, which I think Duncan handles rather well...it really is a page turner once you get going. This aspect though I found a consistent irritant and so I cannot give five stars.
Once one get's past the unwieldy naming conventions though Duncan's storytelling is more solid. He includes lots of word play easter eggs that make for delightful surprises. At times he even waxes poetic in his descriptions without waxing purple. His descriptions are vivid and precise. It's easy to see his world once you get started. He also tends to enjoy including the occasional deus ex machina rescue on occasion...yet it never feels false. He has prepared for it well in advance. Duncan's character development is really well done, and it gets better as the series progresses. He has taken great care to peg out the maturity arc of his main characters. For each stage of the story they feel right, neither dragged back, nor forced ahead of themselves at key moments. The characters suffer and learn from and are changed in believable ways by their suffering and hardships.
The most delightful character of the series is Kade, the aunt of Princess Insolan...just imagine Dame Maggie Smith with a little more meat on her bones playing Dowager Countess Violet Crawley of Downton Abby...one would be pretty close.
I would still recommend the series overall.
- Good world building
- Classic story line
- Good plot twists
- lack of defined abilities and outside influences that give certain characters an air of unlimited power. Especially towards the end of the book.
I feel like the story gets away from me and my understanding of the world is destroyed when anyone can just step in at any point and change the scenario.
Most recent customer reviews
I liked how the magic system worked - it is really interesting...Read more