The Accidental Sorcerer (Rogue Agent)
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Comic fantasy has been a staple of bookstore shelves ever since Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series debuted. That said, very few authors attempt such novels, as they only work very well … or very badly.
The Accidental Sorcerer falls into the latter category.
Gerald Dunwoody is only a third-grade wizard — not all that powerful — and he spends his days working as a magical inspector in Ottosland. On one very bad day, he blows up a wand factory, but obtains a magical “boost” to his powers in the process. Afterwards, he lets a friend talk him into applying for the position of court wizard of New Ottosland.
Gerald is quite surprised when he actually gets the job.
Upon arriving, he finds that the position wasn’t quite as advertised. King Lionel tends to threaten anybody who doesn’t do what he wants. The royal treasury is empty, and the neighboring country is demanding the money it is owed, lest a war result. Is Gerald the right man to help sort everything out, or will he just make things worse?
Mills attempts to emulate Pratchett, comic fantasy’s grand master, but falls far short of the mark. Where Pratchett’s Discworld most definitely is its own place, with its own people, Mills’ creation sounds like nothing more than a bunch of Brits dropped into a weird world with magic. One gets no sense that Ottosland is its own unique place.
The characters are over the top in many ways. King Lionel is almost a caricature of a villain; Gerald is the epitome of confusion; and so on. I didn’t identify with, or care about, the characters all that much.
The interesting premise simply can’t pass the barrier that allows readers to enjoy the story. The Accidental Sorcerer can be avoided in favor of other novels.
This review appeared in the Davis Enterprise on February 19, 2009.