Sunday, January 17, 2016

Magnus Opum - Jonathan Gould

13570616It's very rare that I don't know what to make of a book, but Magnus Opum was one of those instances.  Let me give a brief outline of the plot to start to explain why this is.  Magnus is a Kertoobi, who are kind of like hobbits except that they don't live in houses build into hills and they have some other weird customs instead, but they do frown upon people having adventures.  One day, Magnus' brother gets wanderlust and goes off, writes for a bit, and is then never heard from again--until some Doosies, all of whom love gossip, come bearing news of his death.  Magnus sets out to find out the truth about his brother's death, see the sights his brother saw, and perhaps even seek revenge.  On the way, he gets swept up with a Cherine named Shaindor; Cherines are all obsessed with goodness and beauty, and also happen to be in a perpetual war with Glurgs, the awful, hideous race who killed Magnus' brother.  Of course, nothing is what it seems, and as the story goes on Magnus has to adjust his vision of the world and come to terms with his new discoveries.

In theory, this all sounds fine, but something about Magnus Opum just rubbed me the wrong way.  Partly it's because it's so silly that it's hard to tell if it's meant to be a satire of these sorts of fantasies--where a person goes off and has adventures and comes back changed and everything--or if it's meant to be serious in its own regard.  The abundance of made-up words, analogies, and metaphors all contributes to the general silliness, as does the fact that all members of each race are the same as each other--all Doosies love gossip, all Cherines love beauty and music and goodness, all Glurgs are ugly and horrible (or are they?) and to be feared, and so on.  This is one of my pet peeves in fantasy.  Not all humans are the same; all humans have different wants and dreams and personalities, and these races being painted with such broad strokes is one of the things that made me lean toward it being a satire--because I wanted to like it, but... I don't know.  Thank heavens that the story became more complex than it originally seemed, because I was on the verge of not finishing it from sheer exasperation.  I was hoping that things would turn out to be not quite what they seemed, and they did--but there the twists ended, and everything went back to being predictable once again.

That was my other issue with this story.  It was predictable.  There were no big twists, no big reveals, no "hooks" that pulled me along and kept me reading.  Magnus was an interesting character, going against the grain of his race as he does, but is also stereotypical in that regard.  The epic "quest" here didn't seem to be one as such, and the ultimate conflict...isn't.  Everything is resolved so nicely and neatly, and there ultimately didn't seem to be anything propelling the plot forward other than random coincidences.  This is a silly story more than a compelling one, and I'm sure some people value it for that; personally, I found myself wanting something more, something more complex, something with a little more body and a little more plot.  Would I read other books by this author?  Maybe.  I think I'd probably want to sample them first, to see if they're more up my alley than this one is.  It wasn't bad, it was just...meh.  I think there was a lot of potential here, but it wasn't fleshed out or utilized as fully as I think it could have been, and came off as more juvenile than anything else.  To others, this might not be the case, but to me...this one wasn't a hit.

2.5 stars out 5.

I received this book free from Awesome Indies Books in return for an honest review.

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