Review: Trio of Sorcery
TRIO OF SORCERY (Amazon) contains three novellas by seasoned author Mercedes Lackey. She’s known for strong heroines in her YA and Urban Fantasy novels, and the three main characters in TRIO are no exception. Each of the book’s mysteries are shorter stories based on characters from Lackey’s existing series—if you haven’t read any of them, then this would be a good introduction; if you have, at the very least these are an entertaining addition. Lackey’s writing overall is straightforward, with excellent pacing, and storylines with a few twists.
Arcanum 101 – Diana Tregarde is beginning her studies at Harvard in the early 1970s. But she’s not your typical co-ed. She’s a witch, however not your ordinary variety.
A sort of prequel to Lackey’s 1990s Diana Tregarde series, “Arcanum 101” shows Diana’s beginnings as a paranormal investigator. A Cambridge police officer shows up at her door early in the term, having been told that she knows how to deal with the strange and unusual. Being a Guardian, once asked for help, she’s compelled to give aid until the problem is resolved.
It’s a fun story with good set-up and setting. Her powers have limits and are explained. I get a good feel for the era and place, and the characters are an interesting assortment of skeptics and the curious.
Drums – Also set in the 1970s, “Drums” is about Jennie, a Native American Medicine Woman who works as a PI with her boyfriend David and her grandfather. They’re hired by Nathan, whose girlfriend Caroline goes suddenly reclusive. Jennie learns quickly that it has nothing to do with Nathan, alcohol, or peyote: it has to do with a vengeful ghost.
Like “Arcanum”, “Drums” is a novella from part of an existing series, with established characters and setting. Despite having not read the other books, and the story’s brevity, I got a great feel for the culture–well, at least the parts that were important to the story.
Jennie, despite her experience as a Medicine Woman, is flummoxed by the ghost and the danger it is to Caroline. She uses legend, magic, and logic to solve a complicated problem. She’s a great character, and the story sucks you in.
Ghost in the Machine – Tom works at Many Worlds Online, a popular MMO. A new zone has recently gone live, but players are whining about the difficulty level—and the new area boss, the Wendigo, isn’t behaving according to its programming. Tom thinks it might be a hack, but when he logs in his avatar in god mode… he’s immediately face-planted by the Wendigo. The game’s developers quickly realize that there’s no fix for this, short of shutting down all the servers.
So they call in the cavalry: Ell, a self-proclaimed techno shaman. Ell eventually comes to the realization that too many facts from the Wendigo myth are used, and as a result, past and present belief in the Wendigo have made it real. And now it wants to find a way off the MWO servers, and into the real world.
While I enjoyed Tom as a skeptic PoV, whose reactions and character were enjoyable to read, the second PoV, Ell, was a little too perfect as the magical techie with all the answers. The resolution to the problem seemed a little over-the-top, and as a result the wacky climax, while amusing, kept me from taking the story at all seriously.
- Recommended Age: 14+
- Language: None
- Violence: One mildly graphic death; moderate peril; video game violence
- Sex: Mild references