Magyk: A Review

July 26, 2010

It’s summer time.  My synapses are firing in heat-induced slow motion.  Edit that chapter or compose a coherent sentence, I think not.  But it is a perfect day to flop on the couch with a cool drink in one hand and a good book in the other.  Ah, yes, time for summer reading.

My kids have an ongoing competition to see who can read the most.  My son currently holds the lead at nine novels, but my daughter isn’t far behind.  I’m the laggard in the group at a mere four since mid-June.  And our favorite summer reading fare?  The MG/YA novel.

I’ve just finished Angie Sage’s Magyk, the first book in her Septimus Heap series.  My kids adore this series and have read each book numerous times as the dog-eared pages attest.  They own all five books published so far.  I expect that there will be seven in total.  Despite their enthusiastic recommendations (They loved the humor!), I was hesitant.

Septimus Heap was born the seventh son of a seventh son, destined to be a wizard with great magical powers.  But the newborn boy is declared dead and spirited away shortly after birth.  In his place, the Heaps are given a foundling baby girl to raise her as their own.  When the girl’s life is threatened by assassins, the Heaps must protect her and in the process discover what really happened to their infant son.

Author Angie Sage tells the tale via an omniscient narrator.  With no single point of view, this makes it difficult to latch on to the plight of the characters or to identity the main protagonist.  I found the start slow and the constant head-hopping distracting.  (At one point, we were even inside the head of Maxie, the Heap’s family dog.  My kids found this hilarious.)  I was about to give up, but my crew persuaded me to stick with it. 

For me, the story picked up with the arrival of the Hunter.  Now the stakes were clear: I had a villain to oppose and a protagonist to cheer for.  From this point on, the plot unrolled at a speedy clip right up until the satisfying ending.  Along the way, I enjoyed the humor and Sage’s engaging cast of characters.

Collectively, we give Magyk five out of six thumbs up.  (Maxie the wolfhound gives it seven gobs of dog drool.  If you haven’t already guessed, seven is an important number in this series.)

Simon Bolivar – Exhumation

July 24, 2010

I learned the remains of Simon Bolivar, The Liberator of several South American counties from Spanish rule, were exhumed on July 17, the 227th anniversary of his birth.  Venezuelan President Chavez, referred to by many as El Mono, the Monkey, decided on a whim to have Bolivar’s bones examined to determine the true cause of his death.

Why?  Simon died in 1830 with a physician in attendance.  Well documented it was that Simon suffered from tuberculosis, which ran rampant on South America at that time.   His autopsy showed TB as cause of death.  Some speculate Chavez may try to prove the bone are not Bolivar’s.

The entire sarcophagus opening was captured for posterity, now on YouTube, while the Venezuelan national anthem boomed in the background.  According to Monkey Brains, a variety of forensic scientists from several countries attended the exhumation.  When the sarcophagus was opened, I saw the Venezuelan flag draped over the long ago deceased.  The six coffin openers took great care with the flag and folded it according to Venezuelan custom.

Why was the flag completely intact?  How was it that when the flag was lifted, it did not fall apart or at least show signs of deterioration?  The flag, like Simon’s  bones, has been interred in the tropics for 170 years.

Chavez, ese sin verguenza, needs to focus on real problems in his country – poverty, unemployment, crime, and a failing infrastructure – rather than disturb the bones of The Liberator.

Abajo Cadenas,



July 4, 2010

Just want you all to realize I’m still alive although seldom on the WOTJ BLOG. Just sent in a semi-query to the Korean War National Museum asking if they knew of an agent/publisher interested in that war and related stories. Sent email on July 4 so any response should come faster than snail mail. These days even getting a response is a plus.