colleen the convivial curmudgeon's Reviews > A Matter of Magic

A Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede
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's review
Jun 14, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, historical-fantasy, romantic

This book actually contains a duology - "Mairelon the Magician" and "The Magician's Ward".

The first in the set, 'Mairelon the Magician', is more about the mystery aspect and a bit of the social conventions of the time, but not much in the way of romance. It was interesting and a fun, though it was slow to start and, overall, just a touch above average.

My biggest complaint about this part was the number of people involved. The mystery surrounds the disappearance of a magical artifact. Our hero, Mairelon, is falsely accused of the theft, and hides from the law while trying to find the items and clear his name - pretty standard stuff.

But there are so many other people also trying to find it, and I quickly got confused as to who was who, and who was on which side.

I enjoyed the farce elements of the multiple burgarly attempt, and the ending, but, again, I only give this 3 1/2 stars, with 3 being average.

The second story in the set, 'The Magician's Ward', is much more heavy on the romance, but still involves a high dose of mystery and magic.

In the first story, our heroine, Kim, encounters Mairelon when she breaks into his wagon, and becomes part of his entourage. Even though we see everything through Kim's perspective, and we go through the Pygmalion routine as Mairelon tries to teach the street urchin how to be proper, it's very much Mairelon's story.

The second story is much more Kim's. It's 6 months after the first story, and Kim, having been taken in by Mairelon as his ward, has more struggles as she as to fit into society.

This story is very much the novel of manners, as we go through the various bits and bobs of being in Town during the Season. There are dinners and shows and coming-out-balls and all that.

The mystery takes a more secondary role, but it still very important to the overall story, which I appreciate. While I have always enjoyed a romance aspect to stories, I rarely like it when the romance is the story, so the way that it was woven into this story, as both prominent and yet almost secondary, was well done.

Overall, I enjoy the characters. I really like Kim and Mairelon, and even the menagerie of secondary characters, especially Hunch and Renee. The second story is much better paced, after having established the characters and whatnot in the first story, and more than pays you back for the sluggishness and confusion of the first story. I give this one 4 stars.

ETA: I'm very glad that I heard of and was interested in these books before I read Thirteenth Child. I enjoyed these books much better, but if I was judging the author just based on 'Thirteenth Child', I might not have picked up this set.
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Reading Progress

June 14, 2010 – Shelved
August 7, 2010 – Started Reading
August 9, 2010 –
page 90
20.09% "Not bad, but a bit slow to start. I'm conflicted on the 'accents' thus far."
August 9, 2010 –
page 114
25.45% "Ack - too many people. I can't keep all the names straight."
August 11, 2010 –
page 227
50.67% "Finished 'Marielon the Magician' - book one of this two book, um, book. It was pretty good. Still had a hard time keeping people straight, but I liked the whole farce sort of ending. 3 1/2 stars"
August 12, 2010 –
page 400
89.29% "I read most of the 'Magician's Ward' in one sitting. I really wanted to finish it, but forced myself to bed."
August 12, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey I loved the original book in this series about the young Kim. I really did not mind how the plot developed because its also about how Kim learns about what Mairelon really does, and I like these books about magic interwoven into a more modern, but still alternative history view of England. It was also a huge departure from her prior books, which were more fantasy.

The second book about Kim and Mairelon, as you say did not have as much of the mystery elements of the first story, but still was enjoyable.

colleen the convivial curmudgeon I think I was sort of, erm, surprised, I suppose, with the first book, because it/they are billed as Regency romance, and there really isn't much romance in the first book.

I haven't read any of Wrede's other works except the aforementioned 'Thirteenth Child'. I picked these up because I've been reading a lot of historical fantasy set in Victorian or surrounding time periods. I just browsed some of her other stuff, and nothing jumps out at me...

I saw her dragon books, and if I were younger I probably would've jumped at them. I mean, I used to read anything if it had dragons in it, but I got sort of burned out, I guess. Ah well.

Farfished9 i agree aboot the slow start and there being too many damn characters...I thought this too man...There were hella people after that damn platter name/face/...uhhh what purpose/motive again??

KimberlyRose Thank you for your review! Could I skip the first story and read only the second? Would it still be good/impactful, do you think?

colleen the convivial curmudgeon I think you would miss out on some of the character development if you skipped the first book. I think you vould follow the story well enough without it, but it wouldn't be the same.

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