Spellmonger by Terry Mancour—Goodreads Book Review

Originally posted to Goodreads.com.

Cincinnatus with Diogenes’s mouth.

After serving his time as a professional warmage, the wizard Minilan opted to pursue the relatively quiet life of a country spellmonger. However, his experience leading men, as well as his being at the right place at the wrong time (during a goblin attack on his village, to be precise), ensure that his time wielding his mageblade is far from over.

Very entertaining fantasy. The narrator’s capacity for irony and understatement are evident from the first page. The plot follows Minilan’s present exploits while being interspersed with tension-relieving scenes from his time growing up and joining the college of mages. The book incorporates many fantasy tropes (son of a baker discovers he possesses a strain of ancestral magic, he acquires a weapon/stone that gives him both great power and responsibility, the calling upon a seemingly omniscient and timeless race to aid him, etc) without being cliche–in many parts due to the ironical self-awareness of the narrator, himself. The names for the different types of magic becomes a type of etymology, itself, which nonetheless often sounds curiously similar to Greco-Latinate etymologies; same goes for location names (the region known for its cattle and cheese is conveniently called “Boval Vale”, etc).

Among the themes that nuance the book pertain to the interactions between races. What does it do to the “humans vs goblins” trope when it’s discovered the goblins are just as smart as humans, and that they are only invading to take back their ancestral homeland from the previously imperialistic humans? Can one lead men and women in defense of their homes while, nonetheless, recognizing past crimes? Through his at times diffident, at more times humorously conceited, narrator, Terry Mancour explores these questions and more.

A slight caution for parents considering the book–one of the book’s many studies of magic is sex magic. While it’s presented consistently with the rest of the book, and rarely, if ever, gets too pornographic, it’s there, as is the narrator’s frank availing of himself (again, in quite humorous ways) of the local feminine population. Gandalf, he is not, though he does quote him at one point…

Author: dustinllovell

Writing professor, literature and US history tutor, previous ESL instructor, and would-be novelist who enjoys/specializes in Shakespeare, 19th century lit, and philosophy (whether in print or via audiobook). Author of the novel Sacred Shadows and Latent Light (Wipf and Stock, Resources Imprint). Member of Heterodox Academy. Columnist for The Mallard.

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