Friday, March 6, 2009

The Magician of Hoad by Margaret Mahy

Do you ever read a book, and then find bits of it slip away almost as soon as you've closed the cover?

Like, you have to stop and think for a minute _ what was that book about? who were the characters? It just doesn't stay ... vivid.

I felt that, a little bit, about The Magician of Hoad. I finished it yesterday and I still have to stop and think a little bit when I think of it. There's a lot in it _ it's a standalone fantasy novel, which can be a tricky prospect _ and it takes me a second to remember the characters, and the storyline and ...

In a nutshell (help, I'm in a nutshell) it's about a boy who Doesn't Belong. Heriot hasn't found His Place in the World Yet. So far, so ... old-school. And don't get me wrong. I enjoyed The Magician of Hoad. I enjoyed reading it; Margaret Mahy is an excellent storyteller. It's just ... I think she's told better stories than this.

Anyway. The King needs a new Magician. His old one, after stealing Heriot's powers when he was a boy, leading to crippling fits, is waning. So the King latches on to Heriot to be the new Magician of Hoad. Heriot is reluctant, but it turns out you really can't fight fate.

His story becomes inextricably linked with that of the Hero of Hoad; the King's third son, an urchin from the streets of Diamond (basically Hoad's capital) and a young woman from a distant kingdom. There's no central event in the book, just Heriot growing up, and growing into his powers, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The story rolls along at a decent pace and is extremely readable. It's just a little bit insubstantial.

Mahy is best known here for her children's and Young Adult storybooks and novels, and The Magician of Hoad sort of wobbles on the cusp between Young Adult and ... um ... Adult? fantasy. It's fine, but she has written better. Check out The Catalogue of the Universe, The Changeover, or The Haunting.

1 comment:

Ana S. said...

That has happened to me indeed. Sometimes it's just because my mind is all over the place. Other times it's because the book is like so many others I've read before.