Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0, #1)

Write on: Wed, 12 Jul 2017 by  in Archive Read 4985

4.5/5 stars.

A delightfully charming story that is a unique blend of science fiction and fantasy, Off to Be the Wizard will satisfy geeks who secretly (or not-so-secretly) wish they can be a wizard. I personally found it brilliant in its simplicity and originality.

The story is about a modern-day computer geek, Martin Banks, who came across a discovery that changed his life forever; that life on earth is a computer programme that allows anyone with access to the file to alter almost any aspect of reality by simply modifying said file.  So what does a dorkish dude with the ability to perform seemingly magical tasks do?  He proceeded to land himself in trouble with the authorities and had to escape back into a time and a place where magic could be viewed as probable, i.e Medieval England. 

Told from a third person perspective of Martin, the story was simple, fairly predictable and not one to be taken too seriously as it will not stand up to critical analysis and scrutiny. Nonetheless, it has a lot of charm in the manner it was told so one should just kick-back and enjoy the ride.  I was lukewarm towards Martin initially as he appeared to be quite foolish and immature. The progression of his character as the story unfolded was, however, ingenuously fun arising from a myriad of interesting situations that he found himself in. Martin’s friendship with Philip (my favourite character so far) formed the best part of his character development.  I did sometimes get strong vibes of Back to Future, especially when Philip started to call Martin as Marty.  There was also a fair amount of pop and geek culture references scattered across the narrative which made it all the more enjoyable.  

There isn’t much more I can mention about the plot without revealing minor spoilers. Even though it was simple, the tale was not devoid of meaningful commentary. The overriding message was about the responsibility of people who found themselves with power, and being a wizard meant having to adhere to the basic rules of not abusing said power granted by having access and the ability to change the file and hence reality.  This managed to come across the narrative quite seamlessly without rubbing it in too hard or being too repetitive.

The unembellished prose fit the style of the story really well.  Like I've mentioned earlier, this is not a book to be taken too seriously; it is supposed to be comedic and fun.  Seriously, just look at the 8-bit graphic covers!  The first few chapters did have a slightly drier tone with more technical jargons being employed to set the scene for our main protagonist’s eventual escape to Medieval England.  Once Martin landed himself somewhere in an English countryside sometime during the mid-12th century, tried to bluff his way into being recognised as a wizard, and especially after he met Philip, the story started to hit its stride.  It definitely made me laugh out loud numerous times and I found the whole experience highly entertaining and refreshingly so.   

Last but not least, the audiobook narration was fantastic.  I probably might not have enjoyed it as much as I did without the narrator’s ability to add personality to the characters, as well as incorporate timely and appropriate inflections in the dialogue.

If all the grimdark of late have left you feeling like you’ve been hit by a deluge of sandstorms, Off to Be the Wizard will be like a breath of dewy fresh air after a morning shower.

Last modified on Saturday, 05 August 2017 01:52

A self-professed geek and proud of it, I started reading at a tender age and never really stopped until work got in the way for several years.  I regained my voracious appetite for books a few years back and then started to enjoy writing down my thoughts.  I am more of an emotional/instinctual rather than a critical reader. 

Aside from reading, I enjoy outdoor sports (running, hiking, cycling, an occasional frisbee game), photography and travelling.