Saturday, January 30, 2010


Septimus Heap, Book One: Magyk is a sweet book. Sweet in the sense that it was written about a family. The Magyk that they do as a wizarding family is almost an aside. There is, of course, tragedy, stress and strain on the family, and a menacing Darknesse that they all need to deal with, and one can readily see some Harry Potter influences, but only just.

Some minor things, a little irritating for an adult reader, that I don't think younger readers would be bothered by, is the use of Bolde type and lots of extra and usurping Y's and E's, to annotate the various Spelles, Charms and other Magyks throughout the text. For my son and I especially, because I'm reading aloud, they don't do us much good, as he can't see them, and I am unwilling to stress the words whilst reading. Its annoying, no?

Another thing is the illustrations--nicely done by Mark Zug, no question--which only occur at the beginning of each chapter (à la Harry Potter), but the problem is: they repeat. The first 6 or 8 chapters are illustrated with a lovely pencil drawings, the subject of which relates directly to the chapter, but after a while... eh, what the heck, this one's close enough, and here's the same illustration again. Cheap.

And there are other subtle things as well. In the Wizarding Tower there is a spiral staircase that runs top to bottom and serves all of the floors in this massive structure, and one has only to step on and say where one wants to go, and the stair spirals you up or down to your destination. (Sound familiar?) In any case, fine. The problem is: one stair, lots of floors, hundreds of wizards, and now, a good way into the second book, Flyte, the stair has yet to be in use whenever it is called upon to deliver our hero, or any of the other characters, where they need to go. Its like an elevator in a modern office building, that pops open, ready to go, whenever you call for it. When I complained, my son suggested that, 'maybe its Magykal?'

Sounds like Bull Crappe to me.

Maybe I'm putting to fine a point on things, but I try to be fair. In fairness, Angie Sage has created an interesting world, that seems to have some depth, which I think can be capitalized upon as the series progresses. The second volume is interesting so far, and some things happened in Magyk that I'm looking forward to learning more about. Its fun, adolescent, and charming. And I'm just a grumpy old man.

Yeah, that's it.

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