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Her Majesty's Wizard (Wizard in Rhyme, #1)
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Her Majesty's Wizard

(Wizard in Rhyme #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  6,576 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Matt Mantrell translates runes on a scrap of parchment, and himself to a world where verses are spells. Imprisoned by evil sorcerer Malingo, Matt tries for a light, gets dragon Stegoman, drunk on fire, in need of dentist. They rescue Princess Alisande, rightful ruler, and fight to restore her kingdom with helpful Sir Guy, lust witch Sayeesa and werewolf priest Brunel.
Paperback, First Edition, 342 pages
Published October 1986 by Ballantine Del Rey (first published January 1st 1986)
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Jeremy Tassoff They don't reuse covers, but they do use the same artist's work on multiple series.
You're right that the artist who created the cover for Her Majesty'…more
They don't reuse covers, but they do use the same artist's work on multiple series.
You're right that the artist who created the cover for Her Majesty's Wizard is the same person who created many of the covers for the Xanth series by Piers Anthony.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,576 ratings  ·  110 reviews

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Nation Hirstein
May 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
I had truly loved this book when I was younger, and forgotten both the author and title, and in fact everything about it except that it was a fantasy book in which magic works by poetry (a concept I still believe to be excellent). Unfortunately, little besides the concept has stood the test, not of time, but of age.

I can still see why I liked it so much. It's breezy and action-packed, the main character is honest and self-deprecating despite his new-found magic, and there is a strong system of m
May 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
3.5 stars
Susan Ferguson
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, re-read, nook, 2020
Matt Mantrell is supposed to be working on his doctoral thesis. But he has found a bit of parchment in an old manuscript that he is sure has something important if he can only translate it - figure out what language it is and what it means. He is concentrating so intensely in the coffee shop one morning when it begins to make sense, that he is dazed to wake up and find himself in another world - another universe - that is medieval. And in this universe good and evil clearly matters and counts fo ...more
P Badzey
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Like some of the other reviewers, it has been a while since I read this, but I still remember clearly the first time I picked it up. The method by which the main character gets to the fantasy world has been used before (in different incarnations) and seemed a bit passé to me. However, once it got going, I was hooked. The concept of poetry invoking magic intrigued me. The characters displayed humor, resolve, heroism and weaknesses, the action kept my interest and the descriptions brought the worl ...more
Simon Mcleish
Mar 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Originally published on my blog here in October 1998.

There has been a subgenre of light fantasy as long as there has been fantasy. The novels in this subgenre have an air of gentle humour and some elements of parody, though the comedy is not usually so broad as in the currently more fashionable novels of Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt and Craig Shaw Gardner. In my opinion, the master of such fantasy, generally written by Americans, was L. Sprague de Camp; more recent books of this type include Terry
An Odd1
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fan, fantasy
Matthew Mantrell, PhD student, finds memorized and impromptu verses are spells when he translates runes on a scrap of manuscript, and himself to Merovence. Evil sorcerer Malingo imprisons him in dungeon. An attempt for a light brings dragon Stegoman, drunk on fire, so wings torn and exiled by his kind. I remembered beginning, but re-read was continual happy surprise.

Here oaths of fealty are binding, commanding. Devils and Saint Moncraire are real. Typical author lectures, such as when hero visit
Stephen Stewart
May 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Fun fact: I bought the sequel and read it years ago. So when I saw I had a chance to finally read the prequel novel, I couldn't turn the chance down.

"Her Majesty's Wizard" has a pretty standard premise: PhD student translates ancient runes, gets whisked away to a fantasy medieval Europe where he discovers reciting poetry does magic and becomes entangled in a rebellion against an usurper. Along the way, there are dragons, demons, a werewolf and an army of nuns, just to mention a few. I enjoyed th
Lauren Eli
Oct 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
So far the book is intriguing and has piqued my interest enough to continue. My only criticism is that it seems so rushed. The description of the places, especially in the beginning, when they are being compared to historical places just seems to spurt out in a jumbled rushed mess. Its as though Stasheff was running and out of breath trying to speak and deliver the lines as quickly and with as much detail as possible. I do admit a bias when it comes to description of places, I love details about ...more
Vincent Trigili
Sep 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Pure Classic Fantasy Lovers
When this book came out 25 years ago, I read it over and over till I the scotch tape could not hold the book together any more. Its a great tale about a ordinary grad student who gets swept away to a world where he is extra-ordinary. It has all the standard trappings of a traditional fantasy novel: wizards, sorcerers, damsel in distress, a kingdom at risk, giants, dwarfs and dragons. Two decades ago this was my favorite book of all time, and now that I am re-reading it its destine to become that ...more
Jul 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
re-read again in Dec 2009 after having read it...10 yrs ago?

Not as good as I remember. I liked the characters less, and they were more flat than I remember. This is influenced by that fact this is not what I wanted to re-read at the time.

Not really a spoiler:
A medieval fantasy where Christianity's concepts of God and evil are prominant--it's the only book I read where "good" magic is either assisted and backed by prayer and Christian monks and priests (and how sin-free you are), and "evil" sorc
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tbr-roman
Pretty sweet book. I keep trying to think of reasons to give this only four stars instead of five... I can't. The unapologetic catholicism built into the world of this book is refreshing during this day and age of religious skepticism. And I'm not even Catholic. The religiousness of the book scarcely factors into the first half, but it makes for some beautifully done world-building overall. It is not didactic or heavy-handed, hence the adjective 'refreshing'.
There are some passages which deal wi
Apr 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Matthew Mantrell (if I remember his name right -- it' been a few years since I've read this) is a graduate student when he runs across an old manuscript. He reads it and ends up transported to a world where Good and Evil are very literally manifest. Matt finds that in his hands (or voice, anyway), poetry has magical effects in this new land. Matt ends up fighting on the side of Good in a massive battle for ownership of the world, despite his imperfections.

The book is a page-turner, hard to put d
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Summary: I generally dislike books where the good side is all good and the baddies are all bad (back and white, no shades of grey) - this book does just that deliberately and festoons the whole thing with religious claptrap. If that isn't bad enough it then adds awful rhyming rubbish as the basis of its magic system. Having said all that, the characters are interesting, the plot moves along nicely and the writing is pretty good.

Plotline: Plot is pretty good, although mostly predictable, but a fe
May 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fantasy-lovers, christians, poetry-lovers
Shelves: fantasy, allegory
The start of Stasheff's Wizard in Rhyme series which follows Matt of Newark to a parallel dimension where there's no science, only magic worked by poetry. I love this book, it's one of my all-time favorites. There's a strong focus on the application of poetry as an active creator of actions. I love the concept that reciting the inscription on the Statue of Liberty suddenly brings dirty, longing 'teeming masses' to surround you.

The Christian allegory is a bit strong in all Stasheff's books, and
Cheryl Brandt
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Her Majesty's Wizard is great book. It's a fast read, because it keeps you wanting to know what will happen next. It introduces the reader to some fantastic poetry and prose modeling as 'spells', and throws in some bad doggerel as well. There's a little bit of science and a bit of philosophy all painlessly ingested while enjoying a wonderful adventure. I've read this book, and this series several times, and enjoy it every time.

My only caveat is that only the first book and the last few books ar
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Arthur Gibson
Dec 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books. It is certainly tied for the best "otherworlds" story of all time - at least for me. The author wanted to see a certain type of tale and since none were forthcoming decided to write it himself. It was a success. What if morals made a difference? A real difference? What would that be like? What was a real medieval take on life? Especially amidst fantasy creatures? This is a great mix of plot, flawed characters, hope, love, and spirituality. I will continue to rea ...more
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book takes an english major out of his world and into a medieval and magical world where things are vastly different from his home. The man meets many very odd characters, all of who have their own flaws. He goes on an amazing adventure and rescues a princess and makes himself a hero. All the while he creates magic using poems. I have learned that poetry and prose can be combined in interesting ways to create unique elements to a story. As this book uses poems to create in the world the lit ...more
Chris Middelveen
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Medieval fantasy done right! At least, the world seems to operate the way that people in our medieval past thought it operated, with the nice addition of magic by poetry. I actually was so absorbed in this book that I almost missed my bus stop when I was getting toward the end. I liked all the characters (particularly Maxwell's Demon) and really enjoyed the idea of a contemporary person trying to figure out the science of magic, when dumped into a seemingly illogical world. I'm glad these have b ...more
David Miller
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this book before a few decades ago, and some of the scenes really stayed with me. When I tried to think of a book with good light entertainment, that still had a good insight into people, I remembered it. I liked it very much this time. All too few fantasy authors take the concept of sin seriously, and even fewer grasp the concept of redemption. It is very good entertainment, a real page turner; and it also takes people seriously, with all their faults. In the midst of all the action, you ...more
Dierdre Painter
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well written, much better than the Warlock series (GASP!) Has a lot of Christian mythos thrown in, though, and can get really preachy. The author's bio is freaky, as it describes basically a mentally ill person wandering around thinking about fantasy. Yikes. Still, it's a fun book whose gimmick works; Basically, anyone with the wizarding gene can cast spells by rhyming. It's a bit silly, but worth a read once.
May 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
Somebody was watching too much 'Saturday morning television' before getting down to the work of writing this book. Even in audio this comes across as a pop-up book. I have a mental image of the cut-out castle with the princess in the dungeon and a wise dragon, and the wicked sorcerer, and the weirdly evil king. Oh my!

I've endured it for two and a half hours and that's enough.
Lori Akins
Aug 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book. Dom it became a little complicated, but I really liked it and will read the set. It also cloud have had a few less demons .

Great read, the religion stuff could have been a little more clear for the laymen. I didn't get some of it. I am not Catholic and didn't get s of th references

Walter Herrick
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Pretty good, but part of the story was almost word for word from part of the first book in this series...
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, 2015
I've always enjoyed this series, one of the reasons it lives on my bookcase despite lack of space. Quick read and enjoyable even for a incorrigible atheist like me.
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Her Majesty's Wizard is an excellent read for lovers of the Fantasy genre.
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
The first book that caught my eye, and led me to read fantasy books. Still awesome after so many years.
Tracy Scott-gle
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very funny and great premise. Poetry actually works somewhere!
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
nice book, a bit heavy on religious messages but enjoyable.
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The late Christopher Stasheff was an American science fiction and fantasy author. When teaching proved too real, he gave it up in favor of writing full-time. Stasheff was noted for his blending of science fiction and fantasy, as seen in his Warlock series. He spent his early childhood in Mount Vernon, New York, but spent the rest of his formative years in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Stasheff taught at th ...more

Other books in the series

Wizard in Rhyme (8 books)
  • The Oathbound Wizard (Wizard in Rhyme, #2)
  • The Witch Doctor (Wizard in Rhyme, #3)
  • The Secular Wizard (Wizard in Rhyme, #4)
  • My Son, the Wizard (Wizard in Rhyme, #5)
  • The Haunted Wizard (Wizard in Rhyme, #6)
  • The Crusading Wizard (Wizard in Rhyme, #7)
  • The Feline Wizard (Wizard in Rhyme, #8)

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