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The Wizard of Time (Book 1) Kindle Edition
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On the critical side, this reads like a YA book -- the main character is quite young. But in many ways the main character doesn't think like an average mixed-up 13-year-old kid would think (or not think, as the case may be). The main character seems to harbor solid personal beliefs and a more-or-less grounded personal philosophy similar to the level of a 20-something young adult with college and few years of life-experience already under his belt: not like a junior-high school student. Heh -- would that I could have been anywhere near as level-headed as this kid is portrayed as being when I was 13.........grant the average 13-year-old astounding, god-like magical powers.........and woe betide the world: and especially the people immediately around that empowered 13-year-old. I am reminded of the Twilight Zone episode.......with the kid who sentenced those who displeased him "to the cornfield."
But I suppose that this kid is special. All of the other characters in the book -- including his enemies -- certainly think so. Or if they don't think so at first, then they end up thinking so.
It will be interesting to see where the author goes with the light-vs-dark "balance" idea in the sequels -- many fantasy writers these days go with the Eastern-inspired view that "good" and "evil" -- moral concepts which are then made equivalent to "creation" and "destruction" -- are both somehow necessary in order to achieve "balance" in the universe. Such a philosophical view makes Ted Bundy just as valid in his own way as Paul the Apostle in his.
The correct view is that evil is a cancer -- all-consuming, addictive, demanding, dark, and ultimately self-destructive to the very body that it infests -- thus killing itself in the process of existing. There is no such thing as "balance" -- at least not in this sense of evil somehow being the necessary negative "equivalent" to good. Evil is nothing but the corruption of good -- and often the counterfeit of good. So -- I am curious as to where this author will go with the "balance" idea.
This story was good enough to convince me to purchase the sequel. Which means that it is an entertaining story.
I enjoyed this book very much. At first, I wasn't sure I wanted to read it -- I'm particularly sensitive to the issue of children drowning, and this was mentioned in the book's summary (and therefore it's not a spoiler) -- however, it was handled well, and as we know, Gabriel didn't really drown, but began an adventure as a time-travelling wizard. The circumstances of his death becomes an important plot point later in the book -- one which I could see coming and was glad when it was finally used. (It probably would not have been as dramatically effective if it had been used earlier.)
As is often the case in such books, the new young wizard is cut off from his family when he begins his new life. This time, rather than being an orphan, as we so often see, or sent away from his family for some external reason (e.g., WWII evacuations in Britain), Gabriel has "died" and lost his family that way. The people with whom he now lives become a surrogate family for him. They have all gone through a similar experience and can relate to his sense of loss.
Despite the fact that all of his new team could relate to his loss and they were all in a similar situation, I found the bonding that happened between them to be too fast, and too deep for the amount of time he spent with them. I can understand that one bonds quickly with new people who are kind and who become a "substitute family" when everyone else you love is cut off from you, but Gabriel developed a deep attachment to the members of his team in a very, very short time. I think I would have preferred to have seen him spend more time with them (even if we didn't actually "witness" most of it), since it would make his attachment to them more plausible. However, I think the author felt it was necessary to have the boy be still relatively new & somewhat naive when he encountered the next group of people, with whom he then spent more time, and yet still deeply attached to the first group to such an extent that his relationship with them remained even while he was with the others. (I don't want to say much more because I don't want to put in any spoilers.)
I also have to say that the intermittent "group hug" times (they weren't literally "group hugs," but hugs, hair ruffles, arm punches, etc.) were sometimes rather awkward, and the scenes sometimes seemed to have been stuck into the story after the fact in order to "warm up" the story and provide transitions. Some of them just felt artificial or out-of-place.
I enjoyed the philosophical aspects of the book particularly, and I thought they were well-presented in the context of the novel. I'm not sure whether someone looking for an action-adventure type time travel book would enjoy those aspects as much, but especially for a teen to whom these kinds of ethical and philosophical struggles are new and enjoyable, the book could be very thought provoking.
The second half of the book is much darker than the first half, so if purchasing this for a teenager, it would be good to be aware of their maturity and their sensitivity toward darker subjects, particularly some of the terrible things that human beings can do to each other. The book overall is hopeful, however, and Gabriel's coming-of-age is interesting to watch. I will look forward to the other books in the series.
Note that although this book is the first in an as-yet unfinished series, the first book stands alone quite well, and I didn't feel frustrated at the end of it. There's plenty of room for the sequel, but the first book is a nicely completed whole as it stands.