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A Young Man Without Magic Hardcover – November 10, 2009

3.0 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fantasy veteran Watt-Evans (The Summer Palace) unveils a new series set in a time of civil strife and famine. As noble magicians perform human sacrifice to replenish the land's fertility, the poor riot for food in the capital, Lume. Anrel, a magicless orphan and a stiff-necked cynic, returns home from Lume to learn that his childhood friend Valin has become a hotheaded, treasonous radical. When Valin is killed in a duel, Anrel implausibly swears vengeance and devotes himself to Valin's cause, making impassioned speeches even as the nobility target him for death. While the political plot lines intrigue, they are left underdeveloped and unfinished. Easily accessible and agreeable prose and fast-moving, action-packed scenes fail to distract from the unlikable characters and their many stunningly daft decisions. Only the tight plotting and absorbing new world make this tale readable. (Nov.)
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Review

"Easily accessible and agreeable prose."―Publishers Weekly

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (November 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076532279X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765322791
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Solomon Foster on August 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I am a big fan of both the fantasy of manners and swashbuckling genres, and this book appeared like it might be a good example of both. Alas, this book has neither the wit of a fantasy of manners, nor the panache of a swashbuckler.

It starts off quite promisingly with some nice world-building. But it goes nowhere. Our hero is bland and unlikeable, and what passes for a plot is largely driven by him failing to dissuade his even more unlikeable friends from doing things which are (literally) criminally stupid. In fact, it is the sort of book where the characters' actions are routinely so stupid that they stop and discuss just how stupid they are -- before going ahead and doing them.

The villain is only marginally villainous at best. The hero is inept; the only thing he seems to be really good at is starting major riots. (Which probably means he is responsible for more innocent deaths than the villain!) Most of the other characters are paper-thin. The love interest, in particular, shows no noteworthy characteristics at all, and seems to exist mostly so that her relatives can drag the hero into further plot.

The ending is a complete mess. Without getting into spoilers, the majority of the plot threads are left unresolved, and the hero goes from being crazily heroic to being completely unheroic in the space of about two pages. It is utterly unsatisfying.
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Format: Hardcover
Not the best work by Lawrence Watt0Evans by a longshot. I have read a number of his other fantasy books and found them all very enjoyable. In fact, he's really one of the only science-fiction/fantasy authors I follow. But, this book was as boring and uninspired as I've seen. I have a hard time thinking it was even written by the same author.

A very bland main character who seems to whine constantly. A villain who should have wiped the world of the main character back in the first five or six chapters and saved us all a lot of reading. An ending that was the most unsatisfying, phoned-in ending I have ever seen. It truly felt like the author was just bored with this book and decided to just stop.

I'll still look for Lawrence Watt-Evans' new work, but this one was a complete dud.
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Format: Paperback
My first exposure to the work of Mr. Watt-Evans left me saying, "meh". This book was a let down. It started out great; basically the first half of the book is Scaramouche in this magical world. The world is fully-fleshed out and believable within the context of the story.

But the ending, if you can call it that, petered out. There actually IS no ending. I didn't realize, until after I read the book and looked online, that there would be another title. You have to treat each book as a standalone entity, IMO. Not sure I will read the sequel.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book not really up to the usual standsrd for Lawrence Watt-Evans. The story is interesting enough and shows promise but never quite delivers. The characters are realistic and believable and suit the story.

I have enjoyed many of this author's previous novels, but this one just didn't quite get there. For one thing, the story didn't have an ending. The plot built nicely towards a conclusion, but then it sort of fizzled into nothing. Oviously there is a second book planned, but this one needed to have a better ending to encourage me to follow the story on. At the end I felt cheated for having read so much story to end up with nothing in my hand.

Will I buy the next book? Possibly, but I certainly wouldn't buy the hardback version. I'll wait until a paperback version comes out and make my decision then.
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Format: Hardcover
Lawrence Watt-Evans simply has a masterful ability to create rich, beilevable worlds. This book (first of what seems to be a two-part series) does precisely that, creating a richly varied world with utterly different magics than in any of his others.

This novel tells the story of Anrel, a man who has no magic in a world where many do. He's just completed college and wondering a bit about what to do with his life, and while pondering he journeys back home to visit the uncle who raised him. Once there however he quickly finds the local township terrorized by an out-of-control sorcerer who is intent on using dark magics, and things go rapidly bad as this sorcerer kills a good friend of his. Suddenly he's on the run, vowing to bring justice while trying his best to just stay alive. Along the way he discovers *unregistered* users of magic (called witches), other sorcerors who dislike the current near-caste system, and explores the lost secrets of how the magic in his world actually WORKS.

This is a really excellent book and I found msyelf saying "just one more chapter" far too often. The characters are believeable and complex, the world is large and varied, and the circumstances are both familiar and credible.

VERY highly recommended for any and all Lawerence Watt-Evans fans, fans of excellent fantasy novels, and collectors of unusual fantasy/magical worlds.
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Format: Hardcover
Anrel Murau finishes his education in the capital, and returns home to find that the Walsian Empire is indeed in trouble. Failing harvests and the depredations of a sorcerous aristocracy have left the people on the edge of rebellion. Caught up in events beyond his control, Anrel soon finds himself on the run from the law, having inadvertently fomented a rebellion. But Anrel never wanted to be a revolutionary, and he desperately wants out of his new role...if only events will allow it.

Overall, I found this to be a quite good book. Admittedly, I can't compare it to the works of Rafael Sabatini, but stacked up against such wonderful classics and other work is likely to look like a poor relation. But, having read it just for itself, I found it to be a quite enjoyable story, with interesting characters and an interesting milieu. As for me, I am very glad that I read it!
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