Dog Days (2007)
The only thing that made me pick up Dog Days was the blurb by Rob Thurman. As I love her writing, I decided to take a chance on Dog Days, especially since I was taking advantage of Amazons 4-for-3 deal. So looking for something light and picked it up and was drawn in quite quickly.
Mason used to be a magical enforcer, helping to keep people on the straight and narrow. But his first love was music, and because magic interfered with his music, he put magic on the back burner and concentrated on being a Jazz musician. But Mason’s larger problem is that he’s lazy. He’s a lazy practitioner, and a lazy musician, so he gets by, but in nothing does he come close to his potential. So it makes no sense to him when he’s magically attacked, and the incidents that follow make even less sense.
Analysis? Not great, but good.
There were a lot of things about this story that I really liked: People died, and they didn’t even necessarily have meaningful deaths. The hero was far from perfect, and those weaknesses caused much of his trouble, and he didn’t get off lightly for his laziness. The story went in unexpected directions, and didn’t follow the typical fantasy HEA.
But there were some things that bugged me. First and foremost, When we are introduced to two different characters, it’s written as if Mason didn’t know them. As this this book was written in the first person, this came of as an incredibly annoying conceit. Yes, it allowed those characters to be described as an outsider would see them, but since Mason *knew* this characters, it instead grated on my nerves.
But, one the story started moving I quickly forgot those minor annoyances.
The second annoyance came right at the end. It was in no way a deal breaker, but it really bugged me that a significant detail was simply omitted.
Gur ovt guvat nobhg gur zntvpny qhry gb gur qrngu vf gung gur jvaare trgf nyy gur ybfref zntvpny cbjre. Gur obbx fnlf gung gur ernfba Puevfgbcu jnagf gb qhry Znfba vf orpnhfr ur’f na rnfl znex (frr: ynml) jvgu rabhtu cbjre gb chfu Puevfgbcu bire gur rqtr. Ubjrire, nsgre Znfba qrsrngf Puevfgbcu, n genafsre bs cbjre sebz Puevfgbcu gb Znfba vf ARIRE ZRAGVBARQ. Nf guvf genafsre frrzrq gb unir orra nhgbzngvp nf qrfpevorq va na rneyvre qhry, guvf jnf n UHTR birefvtug.
V ernyvmr guvf yrnirf gur nhgube bcra sbe nabgure obbx, va univat Znfba qrny jvgu uvf arj cbjre, ohg whfg vtabevat jung jnf fhccbfrq gb unccra–be jbefr, yrnivat vg bhg ragveryl–ernyyl obgurerq zr. Vg pbhyq fvzcyl unir orra zragvbarq nf unccravat, ohg jr trg abguvat. Fb guvf jnf n tynevat ubyr va gur raq bs gur fgbel.
Which is really too bad, because I easily forgave the initial introductory annoyances. But the final annoyance threw me completely out of the story. Which is really too bad, because it was an otherwise very good book, that went out of it’s way to avoid many of the fantasy tropes that tend to get grating after awhile.
Oh, there was boinking in this book. It wasn’t badly done, but it was there. Just so you know.
Would I read a sequel or other book by John Levitt? Yes. But I won’t go out of my way to look for those books, in case he annoys me again.
ADDENDUM the First
Here’s a comment from John Levitt in response to my review:
You’re not the first to mention this, so I guess it’s my own fault for not explaining it in the book — I just never thought of it, because it was clear to me — not clear obviously to others.
You only get power from a magical duel if you triumph through magical means. There’s a reference to this earlier in the book, but it’s not emphasized.
And since Mason used no magic to overcome Christoph, but physically succeeded in drowning him, he got no power from it. Just like if Christoph had simply pulled out a knife and stabbed Mason in the back, he wouldn’t have got any power from Mason, either.
That actually changes how I feel about the book significantly. It should have been more clear what was happening, but not being a purposeful cliffhanger makes me very happy.
Revised Rating: 7/10
New Tricks (2008)
The problem this time was that I knew quite quickly who the bad guy was.
SPOILER (rot 13)
Gur ceboyrz jnf Znfba pbhyqa’g frr Wb–n fznyy naq ornhgvshy srznyr gb jubz ur jnf nggenpgrq–nf orvat gur bar erfcbafvoyr sbe gur qrfgehpgvba bs gur bgure cenpgvgvbaref. Jul? Orpnhfr fur jnf srznyr? Zbagnthr fcrpvsvpnyyl fgngrq ur qvqa’g xabj gur traqre bs uvf ivfvgbe. Jul nffhzr gur ivyynva jnf znyr?
Gur pnhfr bs gur pevzr jnf zragny vyyarff qhr gb n oenva ghzbe, naq zragny vyyarff unf ab traqre.
Znfba unf unq fgebat jbzra va uvf yvsr, fb V qba’g frr jul ur naq rirelbar ryfr jbhyq or fb oyvaq gb gur vqrn bs Wb orvat gur xvyyre–rfcrpvnyyl gubfr yvxr Ryv jub ershfrq gb frr ure oebgure nf gur xvyyre.
V guvax jung sehfgengrf zr zbfg nobhg guvf vf unys zl snagnfl obbxfuryirf ner shyy bs obbxf jvgu fgebat urebvarf NAQ ivyynvaf. Gb zr, vg jnf fb boivbhf gung Wb jnf gur xvyyre, Znfba’f vanovyvgl gb frr guvf sryg yvxr frkvfz, juvpu whfg sehfgengrq zr gb ab raq, rfcrpvnyyl jura Znfba’f vanovyvgl gb frr guvf yrnq gb ng yrnfg gjb zber qrnguf.
So although I enjoyed the characters and particularly liked the developments regarding the ifrits, I just couldn’t stop being annoyed at Mason.