Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Wizards of Once

34523213Cowell, Cressida. The Wizards of Once.
October 3rd 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Public library copy

In Ancient Briton, there is the magic son of a Wizard, Xar, and the daughter of the queen of the Warriors, Wish. Xar has no magic, and Wish wants to embrace magic, even though her people are against it and are trying to remove all of it from the world. Xar is trying to get some magic, and thinks that it is a good idea to mix the blood on a sword that Wish has with his own blood. He's a bit unsure whose blood it is, but it turns out to be from a witch. Witches are terribly dangerous, and everyone thought they were gone, although one shows up and is dispatched by Xar and his many magical companions. Unfortunately, his sprite Squeezjoos is injured by the blood, and Wish and Xar approach Wish's mother to see if she can save him. Since both Xar's father and Wish's mother are cut from the same cloth as many British parents (odd and a bit abusive), this request is just made more difficult. Complications ensue, a magical witch killing sword figures largely, and a tenuous peace comes to the world of the witches and warriors, waiting for the next book in the series.
Strengths: This will be popular with fans of Cowell's How to Train Your Dragon series, and seems very familiar. It's got a vaguely Monty Python-esque vibe to it, with lots of goofy characters, the sort of wizards vs. warriors scenario that shows up in lots of books, and has illustrations as well. The cover is quite nice. The parents do improve, and Xar does become less obnoxious as the book goes on. He and Wish are able to work together.
Weaknesses: Nothing particularly new or fresh about the story.
What I really think: There's something about some illustrations of noses that I find really repugnant. Ignatow's Popularity Papers has them, and Cowell's work does as well. Also, there are SOOOO many fantasy books based in ancient British mythology, and I think we just need to say no more. With the influx of new books with fantasies based in other cultures, I would rather spend my money diversifying my collection instead of adding the 200th book that seems vaguely like it's related to the story of King Arthur.

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