Sbuchler's Reviews > Wizard Squared

Wizard Squared by K.E. Mills
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Oct 03, 10

bookshelves: read-in-2010, scifi-fantasy
Read from September 16 to 21, 2010

Genre: Fantasy

I vacillated between giving this 4 and 5 stars: this was an incredibly well written book – but I found it an extremely difficult read. The characters suffer a lot, and there’s no sense that things are going to get better for them – the world just keeps throwing awful situations at them where there is no option that lets the characters still like themselves at the end of the day. The point-of-view characters feel soiled by the choices they’ve had to make, and as a reader I feel completely wrung out by the necessity that they do so.

The story itself takes a well known RPG trope (that of the characters having to fight evil versions of themselves) and makes it harrowingly real. The book starts by repeating the climax of The Accidental Sorcerer in a parallel universe where instead of the heroic outcome we’re familiar with, the Gerald in that universe makes choices that turn him into a super-villain, rather then a hero. Once the Gerald we followed in the previous books becomes aware of his parallel self he has to deal with the fact that he could’ve become that person, no matter how vile he finds the evil version. Monk’s nose is also rubbed in the fact that he has a breaking point – there is pressure that can make him do things that are atrocious. Gerald and Monk have different ways of handling the cognitive dissonance; in some ways it’s even harder for them seeing how their friends can come to embrace the dark side.

One of the things I love about this book is how very human the interactions between the characters are. In an aside Monk (the inventor-genius extraordinaire) admits that there are projects he has needed Gerald’s help with in the past, that he simply stopped working on because he was too proud to admit he needed help. This isn’t a plot point; it’s just gives depth to both Monk’s character and the relationship between Gerald and Monk. There are many such details that make the world and the characters very real, which is why it’s so very difficult to read about the awful choices they’re forced into.
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