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The accidental sorcerer K. E. Mills

Default Smiles Imagine you’re a wizard. Not a very good one, but you try. Your distinctly unglamorous job of making sure magical factories are up to code blows up in your face (pun intended), after you find a factory that is basically coming apart at the seams. You manage to only just keep the impending explosion to the room, but the factory owner pins the blame of it all on you, and you end up losing your job in the process. So it’s off to find another job! There’s a king in a tiny kingdom in the middle of nowhere looking for a court wizard, no experience necessary. What could POSSIBLY go wrong?
Sassy Sharky A lot of things, predictably, or we wouldn’t have a book. It’s a fairly standard-ish plot of someone going mad with power, people struggling to keep up with them and do the right thing, and trying to figure out the mess you’re gotten yourself into before its too late.
Surprised Smiles Not that standard plots can’t be done well. That’s not the problem here. It’s weird to say it but the book was too promising to begin with. By contrast the rest of the book doesn’t really feel like it follows through.
Default Sharky Its basically a case of the author wanted to focus on one story and the we wanted to hear a different one. The first couple of chapters introduce us to so many promising situations and characters, and then we promptly leave all of them behind for characters that frankly aren’t as promising or interesting. I wanted to know more about the factories that produce magical items. More about the magical scientists. More about the general idea of live in the wizardly big city. More about that insufferable rich boys’ club at work that served only to make the main character miserable. I loved those chapters. The melancholy sense of humour and sheer futility of the main character’s dead end job and his terrible accommodation. Trying his best in the face of everything going wrong, but still trying his best.

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Shocked Smiles I have to agree with that. Basically he leaves because he’s fired after the mess at the factory and has to find a new job far away where hopefully nobody has heard of his high-profile disaster. But it would have been cool to see a book where he has to try to negotiate his drop in standing among the characters and settings that we’ve already seen. It seems a waste to just dump all of it and then shift to a more generic fantasy kingdom. I literally NEVER thought I’d speak up against generic fantasy kingdoms, but the city sounded so much more fun!
Default Sharky Maybe you shouldn’t have let us see the fun we weren’t going to have.
Default Smiles There were still promising touches right off though. The princess is the prime minister and is very put-upon and wishing everyone would just be sensible. The non-crown-prince is more or less a lost puppy in human form who’s obsessed with butterflies. The crown prince is completely out of his mind. And not in a ‘throwing people out of windows’ way but in a ‘deliberately encouraging war and spending all the tax money on refurbishing’ way. There’s bits that are a deliberate satire on fairy-tale esque tropes that are amusing and a little dark, like the fact that the king has to be a Leopold because that’s tradition, so if the big brother dies and a little one has to take his place, it doesn’t matter what that kid was called, he has to be a Leonard now because TRADITION is bigger than all of you and it utterly inescapable. It culminates in a very funny aside during a tense moment where the princess wonders if she’ll have to be a Leopold if the chaos ends up killing both her brothers. It’s a terrific setup.
Angry Sharky 2 Here’s the thing. The story is way too full of me going ‘Okay that’s great, but-’. I like Reg when she’s being loud and rude and still genuinely caring for Gerald, the main character. But I don’t like her when she just doesn’t stop talking which is maybe the point but it’s exhausting and holds up the plot when its trying really hard to move forward. I like Melissande when she’s being clever and capable and trying very hard to deal with her brother. The fact that she’s making herself look deliberately messy so that she doesn’t get married off as a political stunt because she has stuff to get done is terrific. But I don’t like her when she’s getting irrationally angry and shouting at people for everything, which is the majority of the time. In fact it makes me irrationally angry and prone to shouting because-
Sad Smiles 2 Sharky-
Angry Sharky 4 NO I will rant about this because there’s only so many pages of people constantly yelling at each other I can take. They flip from ‘okay wow we understand each other better as people now’ to ‘how could you betray me like this, no don’t tell me you didn’t betray me, my betrayal senses are tingling despite the fact that we established two pages ago that this is a stupid thing to get mad about’. If the flip happens once, fine, but it KEEPS HAPPENING. And by the way, GERALD? After moaning and moping that Reg is such a great friend and has always had your back, maybe LISTEN when she tells you something shady as hell is going on and you don’t remember, rather than trusting the shady as hell person who is telling you otherwise that you haven’t trusted since the start of the book. Don’t just shrug her off with ‘oh Reg don’t be silly that couldn’t possibly happen’. I like Gerald when he’s being beaten down by fate but not actively being so stupid that he makes it easy for fate.
Surprised Smiles … yeah okay that was dumb. Another thing I really didn’t like was… well I’m going to try not to spoil anything but there’s a character who is learning magic from a mail order course, right. And when bad magical stuff happens, they immediately blame Gerald because he’s the wizard, despite the fact that he hasn’t done a single thing to suggest he might do something like that. That’s stupid, but understandable given their argument that nobody else knows magic. BUT HERE IS THE THING. This person DOES know magic, even if its just a tiny bit, and has been hiding it from everyone, and they COMPLETELY refuse to accept the idea that someone else could do anything like that. What’s worse is that nobody even brings up the idea to confront them with it, and the yelling starts all over again, only I’ve stopped liking the characters involved as much as I did at the start.
Angry Sharky 4 GOOD. SEE. THE ANGRY YELLING IS ANNOYING. SMILES AGREES.
Shocked Smiles I agree, now stop with the angry yelling!
Surprised Sharky 2 Wha- oh. Right. I’d yell more but the yelling session that made me the angriest is spoiler heavy so… bah. One thing though. I like Monk. I love Monk. He’s Gerald’s best friend and he’s fun and clever and gets a lot of great lines, has a love-to-hate-them pompous family if five minutes with his brother is any indication, is some kind of magical scientific genius, and smiles at bullies until they go away in a sulk.
Happy Smiles Monk is the BEST thing in this book and you can’t tell me any different. Another little ‘but’ is that while his entrance in the last half of the book made me grin hugely, he just feels a little out of place after a while, as if the story’s struggling to find things for him to do. That’s mainly because he fits so perfectly into the early portion of the book, which feels VERY different from the rest of the book, that it feels weird. And Gerald spends a good five pages yelling ‘WHY WON’T YOU HELP ME’ at five minute intervals at the people who said they weren’t going to help him.
Sassy Sharky Because maybe this time yelling at them will work?
Surprised Smiles It’s… yeah. Weird. A lot of the yelling and moping could have been cut out and it wouldn’t impact the story or the character development at all. Which is sad, because it was a cool concept, even when it shifted away from the coolest concepts, with characters that really seemed interesting if they weren’t struggling so hard for something to DO in the story. Maybe if it was shorter. Just sort of splice it into something tighter.
Angry Sharky 3 You’re not splicing any of our books.
Shocked Smiles I didn’t mean like physically chop up and splice bits together! … anymore…

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