Saturday, 11 May 2013
In this, the third installment of the Rogue Agent series, in another Ottosland, in a parallel dimension, the events of The Accidental Sorcerer didn’t play out quite as we know them. There, Gerald didn’t make a dragon to battle Lional. Instead, he turned to Lional’s grimoires of dark magics, and combined with his powers as a rogue wizard, became unspeakably dangerous... and unspeakably evil.
Not satisfied with corrupting Bibbie, shadbolting Monk, imprisoning Melissande and Reg, and committing atrocities against various government officials and others who crossed him, not satisfied with conquering Ottosland, or his plans for world domination, the other Gerald turns his mind to all conquering all the other alternate realities.
The first our Gerald and his friends know of it is when Monk answers the door... and finds himself. Frightened by the events described by the other Monk, and with Gerald off on secret government business, Monk and the girls of Witches Incorporated turn to Gerald’s boss, Sir Alec.
It is agreed that only Gerald can face Gerald... but our Gerald is missing. He stepped into a portal bound for Grand Splotze – and didn’t step out the other end.
The concept of this story is good, with the potential for crackling tension, but in my opinion the execution missed the mark. The first quarter of the book is a recounting of the final events of The Accidental Sorcerer, but from the perspective of the other Gerald. I found this boring, since I knew much of these events already, barring the parts where events deviated, but I also found it confusing. I quickly suspected that perhaps these were events in an alternate reality, but I wasn’t sure, and so I was confused. Also, if I was right, then I was completely uninterested, because I couldn’t see what possible relevance this had to my Gerald. I was too busy wanting to get back to my Gerald to care much about this other Gerald.
The next quarter of the book skipped back to Monk and the girls, where I, the reader, listened in boredom as the other Monk explained the state of events in the alternate reality – events I already more or less knew because of the backstory infodump at the beginning. In my opinion, there would have been a lot more conflict and tension if the reader didn’t know anything about the alternate reality when the second Monk turned up. Even his arrival wasn’t interesting because I already knew who and what he was.
While the back half of the book picked up, it wasn’t enough to make up for the incredibly slow start. Definitely the weakest of the three books in the series to this point. I really only stuck with reading it because I mistakenly started Wizard Undercover first. It became quickly apparent I was reading out of order, and I stepped back to Wizard Squared to fill in the blanks. If I hadn’t known there were events in Wizard Squared that I needed to know in order to make sense of Wizard Undercover, I probably would have given up on this book early on.
Disappointing given how much I enjoyed the first two books in the series.