enhanced] DD-B

Book Note: Graydon Saunders, A Succession of Bad Days

I read this book about 13-June-2015. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2015. This note was last modified Wednesday, 24-Jun-2015 19:52:42 PDT.

This is book 2 of the "Commonweal" series.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


Second book that Graydon has self-published.

I have various prejudices against self-publishing. The vast majority of the self-published work I've read has been by people I know, and have reason to think may say something that's either interesting in and of itself, or said in an interesting way. This self-protective posture is at least adequate; perhaps excessive, since I haven't tried many self-published works I didn't enjoy (small sample, but a higher success rate than regular publishing).

I don't recall seeing so much detail about learning sorcery (particularly in a school) anywhere else. I would have said it would be difficult to do that convincingly, and perhaps it was, but in any case it's quite convincing.

These sorcerers come to it late and not through the usual channels in that society. They are in the group of people with enough power (in this broadly magic-using society that feels a need to keep very tight controls over sorcery, to avoid going back to the bad old days when sorcerers ruled and things were really horrible) that training is not optional; without it they're too dangerous to have lying around. Basically, they're likely candidates to be "independents", sorcerers who work mostly on their own rather than being part of the army or a craft or something. There are some strong magical protections they have to consciously subscribe to. It's implied that they're essentially examined by the protective spells, and may not survive. For that matter, the training itself could easily kill them, though efforts are made to avoid doing so when reasonably possible.

Several of the super-powered characters from the previous book are involved in this training.

So far, most of the training involves working on building themselves a house (they can't use existing structures in town, because of the small but real chance of a crater of significant size). They've already pushed boundaries of sorcery some in doing this, and it sounds like their training is about to go in another unexpected direction (creating magical gates to get plumbing into and out of a basement too beautiful as well as too strong to make holes in).

The title, which seems to promise severe mayhem, never gets realized. I'm just as happy, but it means I spent the book braced for something that never happened.

Okay, as we get to the second half we get more about the process of remaking yourself as a sorcerer, and learn a little more about the teachers too (Halt, and Wake, and Blossom). It's kind of a big deal, becoming a sorcerer. You remake yourself in a rather literal way; Edgar, the protagonist, ends up building a stone statue to animate and live in.

We also see some action in a Commonweal court, and in the parliament, which decides the fate of our wizard team. The idea of building a wizard team is an experiment, I think basically Halt's. They're allowed to do it because these are bonus wizards, missed by the usual process and would very likely die under any known training regimen. Makes a good case to try a new one, not much risk.

I love the worldbuilding here, and I like the characters a lot. The story line is maybe a bit lumpy. And it's very not action-oriented (which is fine for me; those who feel otherwise, you are warned!).


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David Dyer-Bennet