Monday, February 13, 2017


Wizards can't be trusted and thieves are our saviors


This book is surprising in many ways. Of course it is written for teenagers who are used to video games and consoles. The battles are too generically described for anyone who is not used to visualizing monsters and warriors on TV screens or console screens not to be at a handicap in reconstructing the details. But this is done with great fluency. If you want detailed descriptions you better buy Harry Potter’s books or some other fantasy books like Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and quite a few other Games of Thrones.

Then the story itself is funnier than really disquieting. It associates magic and fantasy, conflicts and kingdoms. It seems to be centered on a magic village under the control of one wizard, Greystone, that opens to the various kingdoms around. I seem to have collected eight kingdoms, Emerald, Coral and the Ageless Isles, Ruby, Quartz, Sapphire, Diamond, Salt, Crystal. To these we have to add the Dwarven Lands and the less important communities of Sandstone, Jaspar, Beryl, Opal, Topaz. You will be promised twelve wizards but the list I have built only has nine names and the Dramatis Personae at the end only gives six who must be more important. These latter ones are Darkstone (the villain), Greystone, Oldstone, Redstone, Loadstone and Brightstone to whom we have to add Sandstone, Quartzstone and Silverstone who are the three wizards who decided not to take part in the battle.

The main non-wizard character is Princess Mita who decides at the age of fourteen, which is slightly young, to become a Battlemaiden which means she will dedicate her life to wizardry and fight. She has to be, like her names tells us, a virgin, at least when she becomes a Battlemaiden.

The villain, Darkstone, has taken over the Emerald Kingdom with a magical coup d’état and a lot of murders. He wants to capture Princess Margwen from the Coral Kingdom, to marry her to his protégé in Emerald and thus take over a second kingdom. Greystone defeats him when he is trying to abduct the Princess.

That brings this ruffian wizard to the decision to seize the Forlorn Dagger that had re-emerged thanks to a thief, Stin, who stole it from the Duke and Duchess of Windthorn in Ruby City. By capturing this dagger Darkstone could kill the Battlemaiden. This Forlorn Dagger had ended up buried outside the magic village of Greystone because it suspends magic and deprives people in contact with it of all their magical power, and thus cannot be transported by a wizard and cannot enter Greystione’s magic village.

The story is essentially the conflict between Darkstone and the Council of eleven magicians, though once again we will never be introduced to the eleven of them. That leads to the battle of the Hidden Forest with metal giants, dwarves, giant battlepigs and a Wizard’s cat, Deedles. It is also the story of the friendship between the oldest wizard, Oldstone and the youngest or one of the younger wizards, Greystone. I will end up this review with the concluding remarks of these two wizards because they represent some kind of wisdom that comes from and with age. And that makes the book interesting for an older audience, when teenagers turn adult and discover that the world is not exactly what they could think it is, though it is not either what the older people in our society may think it is. Old age wisdom is not necessarily very wise.

Oldstone says to Greystone:
“Even though you’re younger than me, in many ways you have more wisdom than I do. Thank for not being afraid to share it with an old man when necessary.”
And Greystone answers:
“You should face your past, old man. We all make mistakes. We all have to live with them. But there’s no use ignoring the past when you can conjure it up at will.”

Both remarks are kind of sad and nostalgic, nostalgic for the past that is gone in Oldstone and nostalgic for age that is not yet reached in Greystone, as if the future of this world were in the friendship of an older man for a younger man and vice versa. It might not be the future of the world but it sure is the pleasure of the mind and the heart. There is nothing more bracing and stimulating than friendship when it bridges vast age divides.


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