Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Review - Mulogo's Treatise on Wizardry by Joseph J. Bailey

Short review: A short humorous guide to being a wizard that mostly suggests keeping your head down and avoiding trouble.

Wizarding advice
Delivered Delivered with pretention
And some added snark

Disclosure: I received this book as a review copy. Some people think this may bias a reviewer so I am making sure to put this information up front. I don't think it biases my reviews, but I'll let others be the judge of that.

Full review: Mulogo's Treatise on Wizardry is a short and humorous guide to how to survive as a wizard in a hostile world full of foes who want to kill you and take your stuff, and friends who want to place you in danger by asking you to help them accomplish their petty goals. The book consists of a collection of short instructional pieces giving advice to would-be wizards. Though the advice comes from the wizard Mulogo, the book is supposedly transcribed by his long suffering assistant Ludaceous Vaer Mordicanum, who inserts his own editorial footnotes throughout the text.

The advice, such as it is, is driven primarily by Mulogo's extreme sense of paranoia and desire for self-preservation above all things. While reading, it becomes clear that the reason the reader has never heard of Mulogo before despite this wizard's advanced age is that he simply avoids doing anything that would be particularly dangerous so as to avoid as much risk as possible, or noteworthy so as to avoid drawing any unnecessary attention to himself. For the most part, Mulogo's counsel seems to be "keep your head down, don't put your neck out for anyone, and remain as anonymous as possible", although the delivery is generally more specific and more humorous.

The pattern established in the book is a somewhat one-sided conversation between Mulogo and Luaceous. In each section Mulogo provides long-winded and fairly pretentious advice, and Ludceous offers some sarcastic rejoinders via the footnotes he adds. Through most of the book it appears that Mulogo is either unaware of the inserted footnotes, or too self-absorbed to care about them, which makes the "conversation" more or less one-way: Mulogo speaks, and Ludcreous figuratively mumbles under his breath in response, and the reader gets a front row seat. The exchange is made all the more humorous on those rare occasions when Ludcreous reveals his own self-absorption, or is dismayed to find that he agrees with Mulogo.

For the most part, that's really all there is to the book. Mulogo gives advice that amounts to saying "avoid danger" repeatedly, and Ludceous inserts footnotes talking about how Mulogo is unlikable, unliked, and selfish. The only weakness of the book is that there are only so many ways that one can say "be as incognito as possible" before it starts to get a little repetitive, and Mulogo's Treatise on Wizardry pushes right up against that line. It doesn't quite cross over to the point where the repetition becomes annoying, and so the humor remains solid through the entire volume. The end result is a funny and slightly silly take on being a wizard in a fantasy world that should provide a brief comical diversion for any fantasy fan.

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