Magyk Book Review, Angie Sage
Recently I’ve been re-reading an old favourite series – The Septimus Heap books, written by Angie Sage (whom I have had the pleasure of meeting). I expect these reviews will be a bit shorter than previous, save the final book, ‘Darke’. These books are wonderful, I hope I’ll be able to impart to you all how worthwhile they are to read.
In Magyk, we follow the Heap family; a large, rather poor family living in a ramshackle room in the castle, in a collection of homes called the Ramblings. We have father Silas Heap (an Ordinary Wizard), his wife Sarah Heap and the boys: Simon, Sam, Edd, Erik, Jo-Jo and Nicko (all in age order, without checking. Pride? Yes). The seventh son, Septimus, is the seventh son of a seventh son: powerfully Magykal. Problem is though, he died as a baby. Jenna, the adoptive daughter of the Heap family, is not all she seems; and when ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand (a practitioner of good Magyk is always a Wizard. Even a female. Witches are something different altogether, and they aren’t necessarily all bad) turns up and whisks her away for her own safety, all is not well in the castle..
This book is fast paced and action packed. Despite the many goings on, there isn’t a lack of detail in what’s happening, and I never found myself having to go back, re-read and rethink what the events were leading up to the current ‘happening’. There’s a lot of information behind all the little people, places and groups in Sage’s world. Angie ditches the Ordinary and hits the ExtraOrdinary on the head. Carrier pigeons? How mundane, why not send a messenger rat instead! The plot twists and turns like a mini roller-coaster as the Heap tribe strive to outrun, outfox and elude their enemies. It’s not just a game of survival though, as with the castle overrun by an old enemy, Marcia is doing all she can to get everything back under control. Marcia really isn’t good at being out of control.. or dealing with dogs for that matter. The plot itself flows really well, making for a real page-turner of a book. It’s incredibly witty, and it’s clear that Angie has an amazingly intelligent demeanour to be able to keep everything under control while delivering those brilliant one-liners.
Another thing I loved about the book was the little extras at the back of the book. There’s a little section at the end of each of the SH books, and it’s a way for Angie to add lots of little details into the book that didn’t fit seamlessly into the story itself. In Magyk, it’s all about ‘Whatever Happened To…‘. A wonderful addition in my opinion.
The characters in the book each have some amazingly unique personalities. Over the course of the series, the characters come into themselves perfectly, but in this first book there’s an almost intangible edge of them being a bit untried and untested. My personal favourite character in this book had to be Marcia. She’s witty, she’s funny and she’s intense. Once Marcia’s on the scene, you know things had better sharpen up quick. You’re in for surprises in the character department, as not everybody is who they seem, nor who they say they are. I must admit, you can see some of these things coming, but some of them hit you just when you’re least expecting it. Angie character’s are not the stereotypical sorts that one finds in books sometimes, but really interesting and unique. Magyk doesn’t introduce us to too many new characters by the standards of a first book, but as the series is fairly extensive, I think it’s better that we learn about a few characters in-depth, per book as opposed to an information overload.
I think the abstract spellings of words that Angie uses throughout the book (and the series) deserve a mention. They are most often formed by adding an ‘e’, swapping an ‘i’ for a ‘y’ or just adding an ‘e’. For example, the names of the books: Magyk, Flyte, Physik, Queste, Syren and Darke. It’s something you get used to seeing in the books, and I think that it really does just make the books a bit different and a bit special. Magykal, perhaps..
Magyk is a really good book. I love the whole series. I think it’s the characters more than the plots that make them so special. I think Magyk is a good length for the first book. We all know a book that has had a fairly short plot; but a droning author has extended it to a 1000 page beast. The book is long enough to fit in all the detail that makes it so great, but short enough to keep it snappy. It’s not an intense read, it’s fairly light in fact (this pertains to Magyk. The same cannot be said for all of the books). However, this is not always a bad thing, as it makes it great to relax with; it’s enjoyable.
Alrighty’ho then. I think if I were to place a numerical value on the book, as it were, I would be giving an 8/10. These books are great, and definitely worthwhile reading; if only for the witty banter that weaves in and out of the speech of the characters. The things that Angie’s imagination has cast onto the page for us are magnificent to behold. Hop to it!