Hello, party people. It’s been a little while. Sometimes life happens, and I can’t read an obscene amount of books.

But that’s ok. If even I move at a snail’s pace, I will eventually finish whatever book I’m on. And this week, I finally got through The Master Magician, by Charlie N. Holmberg, to finish The Paper Magician series (reviews for 1 and 2).

I’m a sucker for magical education. I can’t help it. Whether it’s the classic that is Harry Potter, or it’s something that goes after more existential questions like The Magicians, I can’t help but enjoy following a series where the protagonist learns magic.

So here’s your spoiler-free review: Good but not great book to close a good but not great series. As it almost always is, I enjoyed the first book the most, but the third book was still a good close to the series. It’s an idealistic book, but that’s not uncommon in magical series. There are only a few times where I wanted to shout “Why are you doing that?” at the characters, and that’s pretty typical as well. Without giving away the first two books, this one takes on the natural succession of where the story’s going (and pretty much where you knew it was going if you read the first two books). The series won’t change your life, but if you just want to disappear into a different take on magic (magic only works through man-made materials), you could do worse than this series.

Now we’re moving into spoiler land.

In the first book, we find out our protagonist’s teacher has a history with some villains. We find this out when one of them takes his heart. That was so… heartless of the villain. Our protagonist uses pluck to save the day. In the second book, a bigger, badder villain shows up and is also felled by said pluck. Now in the third books, we have a borderline psychotic villain running around. He is not felled by pluck.

At this point, this is where I was a bit disappointed. The villains are portrayed a little too black and white in the series, but in the last book, you don’t get a good sense of either villain. One is the true-blue bad guy who commits mass atrocities in book 2 only to be relatively mild-mannered by comparison in the third book. The stakes were higher, and he behaved more rationally. Made no sense. The other bad guy is just a jerk. And he never really gets fleshed out, even though he makes a somewhat significant, albeit brief, appearance in the first book. It was a bit underwhelming all things considered.

Other than that, I enjoyed the book. It’s not heavy reading, and that’s ok. I’m still trying to wrap my head around a lot of Seveneves, so there’s nothing wrong with a lighter platter.

Until next time, nerds.

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