I gotta admit I’m prejudiced in this particular review just because after Howl’s Moving Castle I went and found a LOT (not all, yet) of Dianne Wynne Jones’s work and have pretty much been a fan of all of it, with a couple of minor scuffles with minor points.
This is a book that seriously has a lot of my favorite things in life – but hang on, let’s get a short summary out first.
In this particular world magic is a fact, as are the multiworlds and those who work to keep them going. These men and women are called Magids – magic users, of a sort, who keep a balance in the realms. Kind of like a magical police force, even if sometimes people get freaked out and burn them at the stake. Rupert Venables is mostly at the center of our tale; fussy, smart dressed, compassionate and sharp – he is being unwillingly being drawn into higher politics of the Powers That Be while simultaneously trying to find a replacement Magid for his area.
His solution to picking one of the five candidates is to draw them all out at a science-fiction convention in his part of the world; England. Then the REAL fun begins.
There are assassinations and centaurs, wacky characters, intrigue and a very good look at Con life (God, I love it!!) magic, mayhem and a Strong Willed young lady who has all the makings of a great Magid.
This was a great romp of a book. As always, her characters are sharp, believable and personable – like someone you’ve met on the metro rather than a fictional thing.
I love, love, LOVE the fact that the majority of the tale takes place at a convention, of all places – what a wonderful idea! For anybody who has been to one, knows how crazy it can get.
Along the nitpicking unimportant side I feel I have to add that often her books are very…layered, I suppose you could call them. Where many things are happening at once, and that character in the beginning is really this person in disguise. There are a LOT of characters and I know some people have trouble tracking who is who. The good part is, is that her characters are all memorable and funny and worth following.
There are several books in which there are Surprise Revealings, where the simple character from the beginning ends up being someone like a lost princess or Really Important Character and I always get that, ‘huh, whaddya know’ feeling. Which isn’t bad!
I think Hexwood is a bit like that though I would say I liked Deep Secret more. Hexwood was a little too complex for me.
Anywhoo, fun book – go find it at your library.