This book is an absolute must-read for anyone who makes a habit of attending sci-fi conventions. Everyone else may find it entertaining enough, but it's really for con-goers.
Rupert Venables is a magid - a member of a secret brotherhood of magicians assigned to to different worlds throughout the various planes of existence, who are supposed to keep things running smoothly. Unfortunately, his mentor has recently passed away (although he is still with Rupert in spirit, in an advisory sort of position), and it is now Rupert's job to find someone to step into the vacant position and start magical training. His mentor has given him a list of candidates from our Earth - people who may have some natural aptitude in that direction. Unfortunately, when Rupert starts investigating them, they all seem more hopeless than he could possibly imagine. The first candidate - a young woman that he has high hopes for (and some hopeful fantasies as well), disappoints him sorely when he finds her - and not only is she dumpy, plain and nerdy, but is holding up traffic to do a "witchy dance" in the middle of the road. The next candidates he tries to locate are even worse. Apparently people with such aptitudes also tend to be wack jobs, emotional cripples, or downright evil.
Through a series of coincidences - and a little bit of magical help, Rupert gathers all of his candidates for easier examination at a science-fiction convention - but nothing goes as simply as he hopes, and things progress from bad to worse when the complex politics - including assassinations - of the other world he's assigned to start breaking through into this world - and soon there's a centaur running around the hotel, evil magicians wreaking havoc, and nothing is running smoothly at all.
Top notch fun and fantasy of the kind we've come to expect from this author.
Rupert Venables is a Magid.
It's a Magid's job to oversee what goes on in the vast Multiverse. Actually, Rupert is really only a junior Magid. But he's got a king-sized problem. Rupert's territory includes Earth and the Empire of Korfyros--currently being torn apart by a bloody civil war. When his mentor dies, Rupert must find a replacement. But there are hundreds of candidates. How is he supposed to choose? And interviewing each one could take forever . . . unless . . . What if he could round them all up in one place? Simple, right?
A fun story with delightful characters, enjoyable for a Diana Wynne Jones fan
The first Diana Wynne Jones book I've read that I didn't really care for. It still has some good parts, but not to the extent that I've come to expect from this author.
I found this book to be delightful. I genuinely liked the charaters; they weren't perfect or tiresomely virtuous, but very appealing. The plot held many surprises that kept me exclaiming out loud at work, much to my embarrassment. I didn't find it childish or juvenile in the least, despite its target audience.
The blurbs that I read about Diana Wynne Jones' books all seem to mention her intricate, twisting plots. They mention her careful foreshadowing of future events. The comment on the 'outrageous juxtapositions of tragedy, farce, high melodrama, and high fantasy...'
But that doesn't begin to tell you just how much FUN her books are! Delightful!
I love this book and the author. She has a style that gets your guard down, then drops everything on you at once. It's great!