Saturday, June 15, 2019

The New Magic

The New Magic is the second book in the Outworlders crossrealm fantasy series by Joseph Malik. Released 30th Sept 2018 by the SFWA,it's 377 pages and available in  hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio formats.

This is a juggernaut of a series. I honestly turned around immediately after reading the first book and re-read it. I almost never do that. Preparatory to reading The New Magic, I read the first book a third time. I have been so impressed by the author's technical expertise and the flawless, effortless command of both swordplay/armor jargon and more general writing.  The characters live and breathe. The writing is spare, never grandiose. The dialogue is flawless.  I was not yanked out of my suspension of disbelief one single time in either book, that's over 750 pages.

This is beefy campaign fantasy, and all the requisite features are there. Military campaign, strategic planning, bad guys with evil intentions, magic, swordplay (my word, the swordplay) and honestly everything that goes along with it. What I have been surprised is missing (and I have -looked-) is that this author, maybe uniquely, writes huge sprawling fantasy without misogyny. I've been a fan/nerd/whatever you want to call it since the 60s (seriously). I grew up in a family of nerds, I was the third generation of my family to read and love comics, and as a girl, I spent decades wondering -why- there were so few good role models for me. The few times there were really relatable female characters (not kneeling at the feet of their Gorean masters yes, John Norman, I'm side eying you!) they invariably died horribly being taught a lesson for their badassery.  I'm exaggerating, but not a lot. Anyhow, this book. It's very refreshing that the whole he-man chest thumping isn't a thing. Competent people are competent and it's not a big deal whether they're male or female. THANK YOU!

I won't write a precis of the plotline, they're posted all over. The writing is much much better than good. The plotting and pacing are good if a trifle slow in the beginning. The denouement is absolutely gut-wrenching.  It took me a lot time to review this book because it made such a deep impression.

In 20 years, this author will have a shelf full of SF/Fantasy awards; I'm calling it here in print. I've read several other reviewers making comparisons between Mr. Malik and GRR Martin and Joe Abercrombie. That comparison isn't really fair. Malik's better than both.

Five stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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