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Monday, July 12, 2010

MOMENT OF TRUTH. Book 5: The Laws Of Magic. By Michael Pryor. Sydney: Random House, 2010

There’s a war on in the Edwardian alternative universe of The Laws Of Magic. Aubrey Fitzwilliam, son of the Prime Minister of Albion, and his friends George and Caroline, who have spent the last four volumes trying to prevent it, have been recruited as part of the Albionish secret service. War is bad enough in itself, but if this one proceeds for long enough, it will lead to the immortality of the evil Dr Tremaine, former Sorcerer Royal, who has no problem with wiping out as many lives as it takes to perform the magic ritual that will extend his own.

The trio returns to Gallia, scene of their earlier adventures (Heart Of Gold), this time to set up a base for a team of remote magical observers. But nothing ever goes the way it’s meant to go in Aubrey’s world. All bets are off when the three find out what is being manufactured in a Holmland factory belonging to Baron von Grolman …

If you’re worried about this delightful steampunk series going downhill, as series novels tend to do, don’t be. The fun and the action are there, as always, the characters as likable as ever. Aubrey can be worrying about his team-leading skills one moment and how he’s going to tell Caroline his feelings the next. George is still Aubrey’s solid support. Caroline is elegant and deadly; she doesn’t lose control even when in the presence of Dr Tremaine, who killed her father. And she’s still capable of reducing Aubrey to mush with a word.

George, Aubrey and Caroline have come a long way since Blaze of Glory. They have a little way further to go, with one more novel in the series. It will be sad to say goodbye to these characters, and I suspect I will end up going back and reading it all over again.

There is a new cover; the whole series has been re-packaged to appeal to the young adult audience for which it was originally intended, and to have more of a science fiction feel. The brooding Aubrey on the cover looks quite menacing for a young man who hates carrying guns and prefers to use his intellect and his magic, but it’s very striking and should gather a new set of fans for the series.

If you haven’t read this series yet, what are you waiting for? Go and get the lot, with the great new covers!

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