I'm 2/3rds of the way through, about when the main characters are trolling a sci-fi fantasy literary con, and I am... ambivalent. My mom got it for me for Christmas, and I read the back and thought it sounded neat, too.Princess of Wands
seems to divided into two, possibly three, small novellas, with individual but successive plots, involving the same main characters but a changing cast of minor characters. I wasn't impressed with the first one, which I can summarize with a headline: "Tentacle monster raping prostitutes defeated by ninja supermom
." Sounds like a great parody, right? Too bad the book is taking it seriously.
The main characters feels very Mary Sue-ish to me; she's an interesting idea but her skills are taken past the point of cool to the point of annoying. The one thing I like about her-- her devoted religious faith-- is the most interesting thing about her character but the most annoying thing about the author's style. There's something in the writing that is... not quite proselytizing, but not quite not
. The author makes a great of show for including other religions and other faiths, and indeed has made the heroine's acceptance of other faiths as part of the subplots, but I don't always like how he characterizes other faiths. There's something vaguely patronizing about it.
I'm also not thrilled with his characterization of women. ( More on this, only vague plot spoilers, less than what you'd get from a book jacket )
HOWEVER, that's not to say that I hate the book. There are a couple of minor things I like about it. The reason I'm kind of enjoying the last 70 pages is that the characters are currently infiltrating a fandom convention, and the author seems to be very familiar with fen culture. I suspect that's why the whole story sounds like something written by a fanboy... it probably was
written by a fanboy. (and there's a reason the term is fan"boy" instead of "man".) Still, stupid assumptions and cliches aside, reading about a bunch of people infiltrating a convention is amusing, as you can imagine. For anyone who's ever been to a con (Fanime Con 3 times, myself) there's a certain verve and energy about it that comes across in the writing from even a mediocre writer. I kind of wish the whole book had been set in this wacky environment; I've been in fandom enough to know that there are pretty hilarious and original characters in fandom culture, and a murder-mystery set at a SF con would be entertaining, if it were well-written and done in a way that was respectful, not didactic (as it is here, a bit.) Something akin to the way the film Dogma
treats Catholicism, I think. Something like that, I would love to read.
This book? I'll finish it. But I doubt I'll read another by the author. His narrative is decent and balanced, but lacks any real thrill, beauty, or imagination. And a mediocre narrative with characters I'm not impressed by and a plot that's so far a bad dream of Tomb Raider meets X Files... nah.
Oh, and the reviewer on the back cover who compared this to Buffy
? I could kick you. I could kick you IN THE BALLS. [I know you have them.]
This is not
what Buffy is about, and Joss Whedon, for all his flaws, can still write women in ways that are worlds more interesting and complicated than this.