Reviewed by: SingleEyePhotos
Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words
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Matthew Lippert is very proud to call himself a ‘silly young man’. He always knew that he’d grow up (one day; some day) to be a famous writer. In the meantime, he teaches in Taiwan and writes in his spare time. He is now dipping his toe into having some of his works from the past 15 years’ worth of spare time finally published. In an attempt to retain his mysterious façade, he does not appear to have a web page or email address.
The Tain Pek Academy of Magic and Advanced Gardening, like all good schools, allows students who are struggling with academe a year’s sabbatical to ‘find themselves’. And if they should find other things besides themselves, well, that’s only the icing on the dragon.
This is the story of an apprentice wizard, Gidion, who is failing his magical studies. To avoid expulsion, and spending the rest of his life working on his family’s mushroom farm (he hates fungi), he agrees to take a year’s sabbatical from his studies. He’s sent to the nearest town, where one misadventure after another occurs. Strangely enough, most of the misadventures seem to somehow be related to Gidion’s inability to perform magic correctly. Thrown into jail, he meets the troll Skuld; they escape together and become friends – only to be impressed into the army of a nearby city-state. From there, matters go from bad, to worse, to even worser.
The writing is very light and humorous. There were times when I felt that the humor was a bit over the top or forced, but those were frequently counterbalanced by the times I snickered to myself over a silly simile or snarky turn of phrase. I’d say that this is a YA book in terms of the story, but the writing – separate from the actual story – is more likely to appeal to a somewhat older audience who can pick out the satire and appreciate how the author is poking fun at the fantasy genre as a whole. The humor is most evident in the first third of the book, then the tone changes somewhat, and the humor in the main part of the story doesn’t seem to be quite as forced as at the beginning. In my mind, that’s a good thing. Even though I did laugh at the silliness at the beginning, it was just that – silly, rather than clever, satirical, or intellectual.
Basically this is a traditional coming-of-age story with the usual cast of characters and the hero goes through the typical adventures for the genre. It’s very light and easy reading – I finished this book in one evening – and doesn’t have a lot of depth to it, but neither do I think that depth is what the author was aiming for. If you like your fantasy mixed with silliness, and a touch of sly poking-fun-at-the-genre, you’ll most likely enjoy this.
I think this would be appropriate for all ages. The story is very simple and uncomplicated on the surface. Older or more mature readers may find greater depths or more hidden meanings than younger readers will, but either should enjoy the tale. There was no objectionable content – language, violence, sex, etc. – it was completely G-rated and family-friendly.
None worth noting. Formatting and typography were excellent.
Rating: *** Three stars