Off The Shelf - "The Moment of the Magician"

by Marcus Pan

Chain Border

The Moment of the MagicianWe step back into fantasy this time, with a swords and sorcery stand-by; Alan Dean Foster. We've delved into Foster when we stepped into his science fiction series with Pip and Flinx, two other-worldly heroes that found themselves in your usual teenage messes with large-scale consequences. This time, we find Flinx in a new world…

No wait, it's not Flinx, it's Jon-Tom. My bad, they're so similar - two young barely-out-of-teenage heroes thrust into new terrain. Jon-Tom, formerly Johnathon Thomas Merriwether, is a law student at UCLA who was accidentally funneled into a bizarre world where alchemy and magic are the rule rather than technology. Those of you who were into the whole D&D scene like I was in high school will remember with ease the Spellsinger series of stories.

But let's, for a moment, assume you don't. Because while I knew of the series, I hadn't read them until this late in the game. The gist is very similar to a series I did read - the Thomas Covenant/White Gold series in that in a bizarre time-space type thing or something, an Earth-based guy finds himself stranded in a not-quite-so-earthy place. In this case, Clothahump the wizardly turtle accidentally pulls Jon-Tom through to his world where the aspiring heavy metal guitarist finds that, while his singing is kind of off, he is able to "spellsing;" that is utilize lyrics and songs from his own world to create spectacular effects here in the fantasy realm.

The world that Foster creates in The Moment of the Magician, while very reminiscent of other fantasy realms and milieus, retains a very original flair with extremely interesting characters and it's quite a fun book. If there was a word I'd have to pick to describe Foster's style within this book, and in his other works in many cases also, it would have to be "frolicking." It's very bouncy and jauntish, with an almost pedantic and childish style that most other authors I'd lambaste for - but in Foster's case it remains charming and nonchalant rather than annoying.

In this particular book of the Spellsinger realm, Jon-Tom must travel to a lake-infested countryside that is ruled from a city called Quasequa. Within the city a new magician has taken control of the land by outing the Quorom, elected leaders, and has wrenched some level of dictatorship for himself. Hearing that this character, Markus, claims he is from "another world," Jon-Tom travels there with his friend Mudge the otter to discover if possibly this was the same world he had come from and if that's the case whether or not he could find his way back with Markus' help. Indeed, Markus has created a dictatorship for himself - and yet Jon-Tom, who is so gullible it hurts, believes that he could befriend him.

On the journey they run into a wide assortment of whimsical and interesting characters. In some instances you'll find Alan Dean Foster delving - but only lightly - into thoughts of physics, surreality and other interesting tidbits as new things are awakened for Jon-Tom to discover. Overall, while not for the truly intellectual reader, The Moment of the Magician is a very frolicking romp through a new world where you find yourself discovering things that, while fictional, make you can't help but wonder whether or not it's surreally possible.

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"The Moment of the Magician" by Alan Dean Foster
Published by Warner Books, Inc.
Copyright © 1984 by Thranx, Inc.
ISBN: 0446323268

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