Sunday, 14 April 2013

SHADOWMAGIC: John Lenahan

A Lord of the Rings for the 21st century. Only a lot shorter. And funnier. And completely different.
Conor thought he was an average teenager. OK, so his father only had one hand, spoke to him in ancient languages and was a bit on the eccentric side but, other than that, life was fairly normal. Until, that is, two Celtic warriors on horseback and wearing full armour appear at his front door and try to kill him. After that, things get pretty weird.
Shadowmagic is a fantasy adventure for young adults (although grown ups will like it too). Written by one of the most popular magicians in the country it brings a fresh approach to the genre and will have a broad appeal beyond the fantasy sections.

A good read with a well-constructed twist at the end ... but it only gets three stars. Why? Because while some things were well thought out and put together, other things lacked attention.
The author is obviously a swordsman (or has spent a great deal of time researching the art) because his descriptions here are beautiful. They flow with grace and you can feel every blow. However, his knowledge in other, simpler affairs is lacking. There is a scene where our hapless hero is attacked by wild boars and, in the ensuing battle, he kills one of them. The next morning they are tucking into bacon from said boar. Sorry John, but you can't cure bacon overnight. It would have been pork chops for breakfast.
Okay, so maybe I'm being picky here, but it is a fact.
Still with the boar incident, having slain the beast, our hero is immediately chastised with the words, "We don't kill animals in The Land without their permission."
What? Did I read that correctly? You mean that you have to walk up to your prospective lunch and say, "Excuse me, Mr Rabbit, but I'm feeling a bit peckish. Mind if I kill you?"
Well, the rabbit is hardly likely to say, "Yes, mate. You go ahead. Don't let me stop you." is he? Not unless he's a very depressed bunny rabbit who has lost the will to live. Or is it that you only have to ask and that once you have popped the question, it's thwack, regardless of the answer.
To make matters worse, later on, the error is compounded. They are roasting five of the little blighters. So they managed to find not one, but five suicidal rabbits!
Overall then, the plot was good and scenes beautifully compiled. The characters were vivid (if a little over-forgiving) and the magic well crafted, but it lacked polish. It may well be published by Harper Collins but if so, they need better proof- and beta-readers.