Pros: Interesting system of magic
Cons: Confusing and sometimes stilted
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Edward B. Irving’s Day of the Dragonking: The Last American Wizard has no dragons in it. Sorry to drop that on you. Wikipedia covers the term as the Dragon King Theory but the gist of it seems to be the same. Steve Rowan is the only one to hear and see the crash of a plane. Apparently it was a huge use of magic attempting to rip open a rift that would pour more magic into the world. It’s sort of like a switch–anyone who already had powers no longer has them, and now those with real power (physically, mentally, temporally) develop magical abilities tied to tarot cards. Steve (the Fool, of course) and Ace Morningstar (his new bodyguard, also the Ace of Swords) have to save the world with the help of a magical smart phone, a sentient computer, and a few other allies. There’s a reason why this is categorized as satire.
Withholding information from the audience is usually an attempt at wowing them later, but it doesn’t always work out. It’s fragile. It relies on an audience who’s willing to stick around to find out what’s really going on, and it requires that the information be enough to provoke that wow realization upon release. The longer you wait to reveal what’s really going on, the more likely readers are to feel that the revelation wasn’t large enough to merit that buildup. I felt the buildup undermined the reader’s ability to make sense out of what’s going on, and not for good reason. The author is very coy for a while and it just got a bit frustrating. I had the damndest time piecing together what was going on at first, and didn’t get on board until maybe 10% of the way through the book.
I admit, I loved Ace’s fight scenes. She’s a great badass. The author did a pretty good job of making the people who are connected with tarot cards read like their archetypes, while allowing the major characters room to grow from that base.
I guess for a while it didn’t really read like a satire to me–there are a lot of books out there that have a hyperbolic style without satirical expectations. I did enjoy Steve’s wisecracks, though. They read very well as the kind of overly-jokey style used by people who are terrified and are trying desperately to dismiss that terror. Some of the writing, particularly toward the start, is a bit stiff and stilted.
Anyway, there’s plenty of stuff going on. Sphinxes, aliens, ghosts, prophets, mutated mythical creatures, sentient AIs, and a genuinely smart phone. Lots of action. Steve learning to pull on his powers. Ace cutting up the bad guys. Cats and dogs, living together–sorry, got carried away there. Not my favorite book, but could be a decent read if you’re in the right mindset.
Book provided free by publisher for review