16 March 2006
Book Banter -- Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe
Title: Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe
Author: James M. Ward
Length: 228 pages
Plot Basics: Halcyon Blithe inherits his family's magical powers in late adolescence and suddenly has the ability to follow the family tradition and be a wizard on one of the king's navy's dragonships. But, young Blithe has a lot to learn.
Banter Points: Ward, a writer from Elkhorn, Wisc., has a great idea here that's a combination of Patrick O'Brien, Robin Hobb and Harry Potter. Blithe serves on a ship built into a live dragon, complete with cannons and lots to learn about wizardry and serving on a first-rate ship of the line.
Bummer Points: A good idea needs good execution in the writing and Ward's book is unfortunately a little slow. Blithe spends the first half of the book just learning stuff from his superior officers. When the plot actually hits, the suspense is underplayed and it's a bit hard to believe that Blithe is really in danger.
Word Nerd recommendation: There is the perfect setup for a sequel with Blithe moving up in the ranks of the naval wizards. Word Nerd hopes that as Blithe advances, so does the level of peril he faces. Though this book is on the adult shelves, it would be great for YA readers -- easily understandable and no questionable content (The naval battles and scrapes that Blithe gets in to aren't overly violent).