The Accidental Sorcerer: Split personality

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews K.E. Mills Rogue Agent The Accidental SorcererThe Accidental Sorcerer by K.E. Mills

The Accidental Sorcerer is the first book in the Rogue Agent trilogy by K.E. Mills, a pseudonym of the author Karen Miller.

Gerald Dunwoody is a “Third Grade” wizard who has been failing at one job after another. After he loses his job as a magical inspector for the government, he takes a job as Royal Wizard for the kingdom of New Ottosland. And that’s where the story really starts to get interesting.

K.E. Mills has a gift for descriptive writing. Her characters were all physical presences in the story. She also manages to write realistic sounding dialog. Though a few of the plot twists were fairly obvious, the final conflict between Dunwoody and the King was well written, and showed the growth of Dunwoody’s character from a failing naive wizard to a major magical being struggling to take responsibility for the consequences of his failures and magical power. Mills manages to mix interesting characters with consistently paced action to create a story that reads quite quickly.

The Accidental Sorcerer starts out feeling like a farcical romp of a tale, as if PG Wodehouse had decided to turn Wooster into a magician. Then half way through, the book turns into a fairly serious story of the corrupting influence of ambition and black magic. This left the novel feeling like it had a split personality. Both parts were well done separately, but together they had a rather jarring effect. I spent the second half of the book waiting for it to get funny again. It almost felt like Mills had changed her mind about how she wanted to write the book, and then didn’t go back and change the first half of the novel. The bad editing also irritated me. At one point, an entire paragraph was repeated.

Mills has a good story here, and the end of The Accidental Sorcerer sets up the rest of the trilogy. Assuming that the writing at the end of the novel sets the tone for the rest of the trilogy, it seems that Mills has created a world where she can explore serious issues of responsibility and power in a relatively light setting. Though this shouldn’t be mistaken for serious, heavy fantasy, it is a good romp of a tale, and the intriguing cast of characters makes me willing to pick up the next book in the trilogy to see what mess they will get into next.

Rogue Agent — (2008-2012) Publisher: For the life of him, Gerald Dunwoody can’t keep a job or a roof over his head. When disaster strikes again it looks like his days of being a wizard are over for good… until his friend Monk, genius of the government’s secret research department, helps him get appointed as Royal Court Wizard to the King of New Ottosland. His offsider Reg, an ensorcelled bird with a murky past, isn’t sure it’s such a good idea. But Gerald’s choices are limited. It’s New Ottosland, or starve. But once Gerald arrives it quickly becomes clear that King Lional isn’t the vain, indolent young man he appears to be. And with the passing of time it becomes even clearer that Lional’s plans might not be in Gerald’s best interests…

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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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