Every time I read one of Holt’s books (often under his KJ Parker pen-name), I end up loving it. Since I was in the mood for light fantasy and he’s known for that, I picked this one up from my TBR.
What to Expect
With a deft pen, Holt packs a lot into a fantasy novel – unique world-building, loveable characters, social commentary, humour. The novel starts as a twisty fairytale world, and progresses into the differential economics in fantasy and the real world.
I then found out it was book 3 of the YouSpace series, so I went back to read the first one, Doughnut. That was a light-hearted portal-fantasy book, where advanced math and physics are used pretty much as magic. Besides giving your physicist friends a headache, Holt uses this as a way to consider some of the implications of navigable multiverse theory – all the fun, without the math.
What I liked
Absolutely loved the tone, with pop references and understated humour. Holt shows how fantasy can be, an excellent example of speculative fiction. This is simply a book you can enjoy at whichever way you like, but enjoy it you will.
What to be aware of
This isn’t a grand epic, neither does it contain abysmal villains. This is a rather more intimate fantasy story, light on the surface but to deep enough to make you think about the fantasy worlds you read and your relationship to them.
The first book, Doughnut, is a bit slower as the protagonist is generally of the unwilling variety and tries to avoid action. Still, there is little correlation between the books so you can read them in any order.
Coming from a world with magic, Felix just accepted that bottles and doughnuts could form trans-dimensional portals instead of the usual chanting and blood sacrifices. It’s the wimpyness of Doughnut’s protagonist he had issues with.
In The Outsorcerer’s Apprentice, Felix did find the whole concept of fantasy economies bizarre, though he agrees about the importance of a happy workforce (that from a man coming from a society where slavery is the norm). He missed a bit of the ‘big bad wolf’ references, but that didn’t prevent him from relating to the various characters.
A enjoyable reads, entertaining and not taxing.
Enjoying the reviews, but wondering who the heck is that Felix fellow? Glad you asked! He’s the protagonist of the Togas, Daggers, and Magic series, an historical-fantasy blend of a paranormal detective on the background of ancient Rome.