I’ve been reading The Rivers of London, which has been the new and hot thing among fantasy readers, but actually I wasn’t that impressed. To begin with, the main character seems sexually needy and pathetic, but that wasn’t the main thing I wanted to talk about.
Today I want to talk about the way magic is portrayed in fantasy books. There’s a certain style to doing it which readers have gotten used to and are comfortable with… maybe too comfortable. After all, magic is something mysterious and unpredictable, in my humble opinion.
But there are many writers out there who insist that there should be a magic “system” which basically makes it boil down to a science. There should be a price for every type of magic, they insist, as if someone was ordering it from a menu.
Isn’t the whole point of magic is that it’s, well, magical?
In Rivers of London, as the main character begins his training, all I want to do is yawn from ear to ear. I suddenly feel like I’m back in grade school. But strangely I didn’t feel like that when I was reading Harry Potter even though the magic was literally taught in a school.
Maybe the difference is in the way the ‘system’ is portrayed. There are things and devices that work like they’re supposed to, but also there is a bit of unexpected chaos.
I understand the need for a system and having some rules in place so that the reader doesn’t feel completely lost. But at the same time, this idea has been bothering me for some time. Too often, I’ve been reading a book thinking it’s going to be about magic, when it’s really more like science, and boring science at that.
Anyway, I guess my point is… don’t buy this book!