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[personal profile] aryllian
I read this book because it's by Delia Sherman. If it had been by anyone else, I think the title would have signaled me away, saying "Not your thing".

I'm not entirely sure why the title says that to me, but basically, I think "evil wizard" is a bit too much of a stereotype to appeal to me, even if it's probably going to be deconstructed. And "Smallbone" just sounds odd to me.

In fact, although I enjoyed reading it quite a bit (it had a lot of forward momentum and was a fun read), it wasn't exactly my thing, but not because of anything that the title signaled. The "Smallbone" part was actually quite cool, I enjoyed the little New England town filled with people with the family name Smallbone.

I suspect it might be better on reread, knowing what it's really all about, though, because there was one thing that came out of the blue (I think I must have missed a few clues though) and disappointed me:

If you're going to have a Dread Pirate Roberts plot, it works so much better if the person the Dread Pirate Roberts turns out to be is someone that you already know. Or at least it needs to present some sort of identity issue that's more interesting than the alternative.

I was disappointed because I was really getting into the idea of the Evil Wizard Smallbone as a long-lived guy who'd changed over the course of his long life, but still had some changes that he needed to make because even though he'd mellowed he was still sort of evil. And I was hoping that everyone, including the apprentices and the townsfolk, would work together to defeat the wolf and also to defeat the remaining remnants of evilness of the evil wizard Smallbone, make him see the error of his ways, after which they could all live happily ever after.

As it was, that sort of happened, in that some of the more stringent arbitrary rules got revised, and I suppose you can consider that when Nick took on the evil wizard role part time, the evil wizard learned to be less evil, but ... it's not quite the same thing. And the stuff with the "evil wizard" being a role and a disguise and a source of power rather than a person...didn't quite gel for me.

Actually, I don't think there was room for it to gel. Gelling takes time. The evil wizard not exactly existing except as a role, a disguise, etc. was supposed to be the answer to the questions that I didn't actually have; I assume it wasn't supposed to raise more questions and totally unsettle the picture I'd put together so far, because there wasn't room in the book at that point to address the questions I wasn't supposed to have. (Basically, I don't get why the Evil Wizard Smallbone was a role and a disguise. Source of power being passed on makes sense. Role and disguise at that level -- I can't come up with any explanation that really satisfies me.)

So yeah, I wanted to be reading a slightly different book. These things happen.


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