By Special Request

The Scriptlings by Sorin SuciuSo for the first time ever, I was recently contacted to review a book. That’s exciting. After a day or so thought I decide why not? Getting asked to review a book is awesome and not something that happens every day, though I did make it clear that no good review was guaranteed. I’ll give it a shot and speak my mind.

That being said…Did you like Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett? You did? Well good! Not only is Good Omens a personal favorite of mine, but the book I was asked to review is quite a bit in that vein.

So I present you with The Scriptlings by Sorin Suciu. This is an urban fantasy novel set in Toronto, Canada. Now, to give a bit of a fair warning there is some toilet-y humor to this book. The Magicians in this book all take new names when they begin their study, all of them happen to be…well unconventional is probably the best term. The lead characters are: Master Loo (British slang for toilet), Master Sewer, Merkin (If you don’t know what this is, I’m not telling you but be real careful if you Google) and Buggeroff (the first thing the poor lad said following an evening of getting spectacularly drunk).

When I read the blurb about this book on Smashwords, I started grinning. I knew immediately that I would enjoy this book and I was right. Hint: Take advantage of the footnotes. They add to the humor.

So, our story starts out with ‘heroine’ Merkin being grounded (magic stifled) by her Master (Master Dung) due to her insubordination. Now partly this is due to Merkin being not a very good person (seriously, I wouldn’t have minded if she’d been grievously injured or worse) and part of it is Master Dung being a complete and total asshole. So, Merkin being tired of Dung (and really who isn’t?), she figures out a way to get her magic back and ends up killing Master Dung.

What she doesn’t realize is that killing Master Dung notifies one of his former Scriptlings (this world’s term for a novice or learning magician) and knocks her out for about two days. When she comes to, she gets talked into a corner by Master Sewer. In exchange for him not turning her into the authorities for murder, she will become his Scriptling. And by the laws of magicians, he gets to keep Master Dung’s estate since Sewer is Dung’s eldest Scriptling.

Elsewhere in Toronto, young Simon is working a dead end job despite his degree in computer science when one day he gets an interesting email about a job offer. It seems tailored just for him (it is but he doesn’t know this yet) so he decides to check it out after just a teeny bit of deliberation. For his trouble, he gets killed. :-O And then he wakes up. You see, Simon was 100% non-magical which made him the perfect tabula rasa for Master Loo’s most ongoing experiment: giving Magic to those who have none. Unfortunately, this requires killing the subject.

Except this time (this time, meaning he’s killed quite a few people) it works! Simon comes back to life and ends up with the self-chosen Magician name of Buggeroff. Simon was a good choice of subject because apparently magic is quite a bit like software coding, only using Latin, Russian and Sumerian. I think this is quite the unique take on magic in fantasy novels. A very nice touch.

The stories of Buggeroff and Merkin start out separate and twine together nicely over the course of the novel. It was a refreshingly new take on urban fantasy and the potentially apocalyptic story line.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I think that if you like Good Omens or even some Douglas Adams, then you will like this book. Rating: B+ 

The Palace Job

The Palace Job by Patrick WeekesSo I rarely go for straight up fantasy novels. I really prefer urban fantasy as my addiction of choice. I like to see how writers like Jim Butcher, Richard Kadrey and Simon R. Green mix the fantastical with the ‘real’ world. That being said, I really enjoyed this book The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes. It is pretty straight up fantasy but I did question whether it was some really far future, post-apocalypse thing as French was at one point referred to as an ‘old language’. To be fair, French is a fairly old language by even our standards but the way it was referred to in the book made me the old as in a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away rather than Middle Ages sort of old.

At any rate, we start off the book with our main characters Loch and her trusty sidekick Kail (I think that was how it was spelled, though it would be funny if it were spelled like the veggie) locked up in the most impossible to escape prison of the time. Its Alcatraz, you could say. This prison is located directly beneath the floating city of Heaven’s Spire and it is, in fact, the job of the prisoners to clean the crystals that keep the city afloat.

Loch and Kail ended up there for illegally attempting to enter Heaven’s Spire (for a sort of reference, Heaven’s Spire is a bit like Elysium, only the wealthiest get to live there and visiting is damn near impossible). They were set up to get arrested and Loch is only trying to regain something that rightfully belongs to her, an Elven scroll that will allow her and Kail to live comfortably. They had fought in a war (for the winning side) and had been declared killed in action. Rather hard to hold down a job when you’re dead.

Loch plans a brilliant escape with the help of Kail and another inmate. Once that is done, Loch continues to plot the heist she had originally planned on, with new people that she could trust. Of course, being escaped convicts, they do get the law coming down after them. Justicar Pyvic is considered a very neutral and trustworthy Justicar (my take on Justicars is that they’re rather like Judge Dredd, sort of a police/judge rolled into one but I could be wrong). Unfortunately. he has the bungling warden of the prison along for the ride and the man just keeps letting their quarry escape.

There is quite a bit of Simon R. Green-esque dry humor in this book, which I love but there is also just some upfront ‘blue’ language. Kail, in particular, is a fan of the your mom jokes. He knows at least one in every language and absolutely must taunt his opponent with one before engaging. There’s a ‘unicorn’ who continually tries to hook up with virgins (once she’s had them and they’re no longer virgins, she’s no longer interested).  This is like Ocean’s 11 meets fairy tales. It is quite entertaining and there’s another book coming out in a month or two. 🙂 I think this wouldn’t be for everyone, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. Rating: solid B.