by Sorin Suciu
ebook, 372 pg.
Read: September 6 – 8, 2014
For reasons I can’t quite put my finger on (it may have something to do with all the Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett references I saw when reading about the book), I came to The Scriptlings with a degree of trepidation. But it didn’t take long for the book’s charm and wit to get me past that and buy into its premise and style.
Scriptlings are apprentice magicians. Magicians are born gifted — either from a magician parent or two, or the occasional child of muggle parents. Well, until now, anyway, but that’s not for me to say. For reasons that aren’t sufficiently described (and don’t need to be), each magician picks a name for themselves, the more disgusting the better. So we focus two Scriptlings and three Masters — Buggeroff, Merkin, Master Loo, Master Dung, and Master Sewer. Yeah, some of those names you really don’t want to spend that much time dwelling on, but thankfully, they quickly lose their typical connotation and just become strange names like something you’d find in any fantasy novel.
I should also mention Gertrude. The sentient and magical goat (Loo’s familiar) who occasionally thinks that she’s snake, and acts accordingly. At first, I thought she’d be a quick throwaway joke that we’d move on from quickly, but in the end, Gertrude’s a pivotal character, and brings a lot of the emotional weight to the plot.
It’s dangerous to try to quantify things like this (aside from actual word counts), but I’d wager that 1/3 of this book is made up of character and story, the other two thirds are style, attitude and jokes. I should stress this isn’t a complaint, or at least not a big one, anyway. Generally, I’d prefer that ratio to be 50/50 at least, but it works for this book. So yes, the plot is pretty slight — but you’re too busy being amused to worry about that. I should add that I really liked his use of footnotes, he’s not quite as good at it as Josh Bazell or Lisa Lutz, but who is?
I’ve seen the blending of magic and computers before, but not quite like Suciu has formulated it. That was clever enough in and of itself — you surround that with his humor and you’ve got yourself a fun way to spend a couple of hours. Ignore the Adams and Pratchett comparisons, think more Christopher Moore in Bloodsucking Fiends or You Suck. If you liked that, you’ll likely enjoy this.
This is billed as the first of a trilogy, I’m not sure I see where Suciu is headed, but I’m interested in seeing it.
Note: The author was kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for a review.