Book review: Blaze of Glory, Michael Pryor

Blaze of GloryWhen I was a kid I loved pretty much everything Enid Blyton wrote, with a couple of exceptions. First among these was Noddy (that little prat). Second was Fatty, the so-called “hero” of the Five Find-Outers series. Fatty was a rich, boastful boor (who was obsessed with “slimming”, though he never seemed to lose any weight), and his adventures left me with a long-running distaste for tales of the English upper-class.

The Laws of Magic novels, of which Blaze of Glory is part one, are about Aubrey Fitzwilliam – a very rich, very clever, very absurdly named English toff who attends a posh boarding school and is the son of a prominent politician. By rights I should hate him. But I don’t, and I think it’s because Michael Pryor is playing with the conventions of a genre I once loathed.

And doing an awfully good job of it. For example: Aubrey’s best chum George constantly calls him “old man”. And at one stage he dresses himself up as a street urchin called Tommy Sparks. Tommy Sparks! Brilliant.

Superficially, Laws of Magic is a lot like Harry Potter: both are about slight, dark-haired, magically gifted teenagers with a knack for landing themselves in the thick of mysterious events. But Blaze of Glory is rife with a political intrigue that’s absent from the Potter novels (from the early ones, at least): it’s set in an alternate universe in the early 20th century, as “Albion” is on the verge of war with “Holmland” (stand-ins for England and Germany, respectively).

Aubrey and George are invited to a shooting weekend at the Crown Prince’s palatial country estate, joined by politicians, aristocrats and foreign diplomats. Aubrey foils an attempt on the Prince’s life when he discovers a golem sent on an assassination mission – but who sent the golem, and why? … 


Saturday morning LOLs

First up, two unrelated things: coffee is so good; Vegemite on toast is so good.

The Rejectionist held a contest recently to write the most amazing form rejection letter in the history of the universe, and the winner is a truly astounding cavalcade of LOLs. A sampling:

Please don’t be offended. Your query’s horrendous.
We can’t understand why you’d bother to send us
a missive so deeply in need of an edit
we wanted to vomit as soon as we read it.
Its hook was insipid, its grammar revolting,
its font microscopic, its manner insulting,
its lies unconvincing, its structure confusing,
its efforts at comedy less than amusing.
We think that on average the writing is better
in comments on YouTube than inside your letter.

That’s gold, Jerry! The complete opus is here. I reckon most writers would be pretty chuffed with a rejection like this.


Australian publishing industry win!



Good news, everyone:

The federal government announced on Wednesday morning that it will not change how books are bought and sold in Australia, despite a recommendation by the productivity commission to scrap parallel importation restrictions on books.

Adds Sydney agent blogger Call My Agent:

Parallel importation regulations will notbe changed. That’s correct: NOT be changed. Which means Australian copyright still exists and Australian authors have the same fair shot at getting published that they had a couple of years ago (the industry has been understandably nervous the last year and a bit).