Friday, February 1, 2013

Beware the red wizards!

Spent six hours aboard a train yesterday which gave me the opportunity to read a little bit. I finished Red Magic, and boy was it a struggle. This book was extremely hard to get through because it's so incredibly bad. For each paragraph there was at least one thing that took me right out of it. Clunky dialogue, lots of tell instead of show, an abundance of adverbs ruining the immersion, poorly realized characters, whimsical plot details that made the experience feel more like some Dungeons & Dragons game master's campaign journal, chronicling the adventures of the players (and for all I know, that's exactly what Red Magic is). I am sure it would be fun to be one of the characters in a game, but as a narrative it's not very fun. The only reason I decided to chug through it was to get a feel of a section of the Forgotten Realms campaign world (in this case, the land of the Red Wizards, Thay), and that it was mercifully short. 
Seriously, how this got published is a mystery to me. 
Finishing it, I jumped back into Star Wars: Darth Plagueis, thinking that after Red Magic that book would probably feel much better, and it did. I'm going to try out a few more Forgotten Realms novels, just to see if they are all equally craptacular, but wow. Still, that being said, it's fun as a guilty pleasure to try to envision a centaur climbing up a tower's stairs. But it's not fun with contradictions, plot holes, random encounters, unbelievable character motivations etc. in a narrative. 
How it gets three point five stars on GoodReads is nigh on unfathomable, but I suspect there are many D&D fans who like these books and maybe young people derive more pleasure from it (not meant as an offense; rather, that my taste has become discriminating perhaps especially after being exposed to quality fantasy material like Martin and Erikson); it also has three stars on Amazon.
I planned to do a write-up of Red Magic with comments liberally sprinkled, almost like Mystery Science Theater but for a novel, but I ended up deciding it is not worth the time and effort, especially for a novel from 1991. 
Oh my. Best thing about it: The cover.

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