The Business of Magic


In Your Dreams, by Tom Holt – When you rely on libraries for your reading material, it’s an unfortunate fact that they rarely carry all of the volumes in a series, and the ones they do have often seem randomly selected. Such is the case with Holt’s series set at the magical firm of J.W. Wells & Co., the company that makes a love potion in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Sorcerer. As revealed in Holt’s books, they also deal in entertainment, politics, pest control (mostly slaying dragons and other monsters), locating mineral deposits, and many other fields. Employees at the firm include goblins, a dwarf, a giant, and a fairy queen. Oh, and they do their banking in the world of the dead in order to avoid taxes. Sounds like a pretty awesome place, right? Well, not really, as with most businesses, the senior partners are more concerned with the bottom line than anything else. As we find out in In Your Dreams, the second book in the series but the first one I’ve read, they don’t even much mind one of their number trying to take over the world as long as they’re still bringing in money. The protagonist of this book, and apparently the preceding one as well, is a young man named Paul Carpenter, who shows quite a bit of natural talent but remains utterly confused by the goings-on at his workplace. As the story opens, his girlfriend has broken up with him, he’s driving a company car that’s actually an enchanted German woman from a rival firm, his boss’s mom (who happens to be a shape-shifting goblin) keeps hitting on him, and the Fey are invading through his dreams. Quitting, by the way, is not an option. There appears to be a bright spot in his childhood sweetheart returning, but even she might not be exactly what she seems. While the setting was inspired by Gilbert and Sullivan, the fantasy world we see goes well beyond that, tossing in a lot of different elements. Paul himself is the reluctant, somewhat bumbling type of hero, as seen when he kills a wyvern by sitting on it. His great-uncle actually compares him to Bilbo Baggins (among others) at one point. We also learn that Paul is the result of selective breeding of humans, much like the protagonist in Falling Sideways. The book was an enjoyable comic fantasy, but I do wish I’d been able to read the first one first.

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1 Response to The Business of Magic

  1. Pingback: The Craziest Trap You’ll Ever See | VoVatia

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