Review: Spell Games by TA Pratt
If you’ve not experienced TA Pratt’s Marla Mason series, you can read my reviews of the first 3 books, Blood Engines, Poison Sleep and Dead Reign. You can also follow Marla Mason on twitter … her posts parallel much of Dead Reign and then begin to chronicle how very strange the holidays can get in Felport. You can also jump straight into the Marlaverse by reading excerpts and more at MarlaMason.net
This book hits the ground running, finishing the conversation with Marla’s surprise visitor at the end of Dead Reign, and it never really slows down. B, our favorite oracle generator, joins the team as Marla’s new apprentice and from his perspective we get a training montage of Felport’s magical elite. The diversity of magic in this world and how closely it relates to the science and spirituality of our world is one of my favorite parts about this series. Pocket universes and the anthropomorphizing of the base physical forces of the universe tickle the physics student in me. However, the core of this story though is a con.
The con is long and convoluted enough to pull the plot along, but when a malevolent mushroom god gets thrown into the mix, all the elements of a perfect Marla Mason story are in place. I worked on a shitaki farm in high school, so I have a special place in my heart for mycelium. Any organism as vast and ancient as the mushrooms that inspire this god has had plenty of time to contemplate its place in the world. The interplay between magic and lies both drive the story and offer significant insight into our favorite Sorcerer (turns out Sorceress isn’t all that PC). This story is darker and more intense than it’s predecessors but builds solidly on the foundation they set. The climax, while not totally unexpected, wraps the book nicely and propels our heroine into the most personal quest we’ve encountered in the series.
Catch up on this series, and get ready for the release of Spell Games in February 2009. I’ll resist being forced to reveal spoilers, but feel free to email me with ANY questions you have about this series. As always, comments are very much appreciated.
Thanks again to everyone that entered my Spell Games Giveaway. I’m glad I got a chance to read it before I sent it out. If you’ve enjoyed these books, or even just my reviews, I’d highly recommend Tim Pratt’s (yes, that’s what the T stands for) first novel, The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl and his 2 short story collections: Little Gods and Hart and Boot. The collections offer at least 3 stories connected to the characters in Marla’s universe, including more on Rondeau and B.
[update 2008-12-28] This review has been republished on Adventures in SciFi Publishing.