Having been puzzled and annoyed by the less than stellar review eructated by Kirkus for JUDGE OF AGES, I thought it only fair to give the opposing point of view by someone more qualified to have an opinion, our own Deiseach. What follows is an intermediate review (written before she reached the end of the book) and then a final review:
Dear Mr Wright, I go off-topic to express my delight with “Judge of Ages”, the most recent volume of the “Count to a Trillion” series.
I am still only half-way through it, and I spent my time reading equally divided between laughter and “WHAT????”
I can certainly say I never saw the plot convolutions coming.
Menelaus is as wonderful as ever
I definitely see the family resemblance between him and Scipio, though I fear I may be racking up the time in Purgatory between the pair of them and their oaths as I’m mentally voicing them as I read – as Chaucer says in “The Parson’s Tale”:
Sake, ne swereth nat so synfully in dismembrynge
of crist by soule, herte, bones, and
Though I am glad to apprehend Menelaus’ tasteful restraint – indeed, more than 2% of the interior of the Earth would be ostentatious and over-the-top
Dear Sir Guiden: were you not already a happily true-married man, I would be throwing myself at you. There were tears and smiles as I read Oenoe’s account of how she fell in love with her husband.
Dear Mickey the Witch: as a person of a spherical contour of bodily form myself, I appreciate the cunning use to which you put your superfluity of tissue. Also, I agree: the best way to sum up what Menelaus and his opponents are doing is “magic”
I’m probably way off here, but did I detect the slightest hint of jealousy in Exarchel about Menelaus giving Mickey a nickname? Almost as if it/he were thinking “I’m the only one he gives a nickname! I’m his Blackie!”
Good grief: between the double-, triple- and quadruple-backstabbing and intrigue, and the fact that Menelaus planned most or all of this, I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen next, and I love every minute of it.
Also! You are making me like your characters! Soorm is charming, if one can say that of a Hormagaunt (licking up the brains and all), and dash my wig, if Reyes y Pastor died in defence of the Blessed Sacrament, I’ll have to pray for his soul. I already like Ximen much too much. And Illiance was already the best of a bad lot, so what you did with him – grrr, can a girl not have at least one villain to boo and hiss?
Can I please assume (not yet having come to the end of the book) that Naar at least comes to a sticky end? I don’t like Naar one bit, and if he reforms and all, I don’t know what I’ll do with myself.
Finally, I appreciate your use of language. The names you give the Hermeticists (and others) are beautiful; they may be villains and rogues and traitors to humanity, but they have such absolutely lovely names: Sarmento i Illa d’Or is a scoundrel, but his name is gorgeous to say and to see.
And here is the final review:
I am hobbled by not wanting to reveal any spoilers for those who have not read “Judge of Ages”, so all I can truly say is this:
(a) This is a public service announcement to every person who has learned to read the English language. HASTEN FORTH AND PURCHASE, WHETHER IN PHYSICAL COPY OR AS A DOWNLOAD, “JUDGE OF AGES”
(b) Now that I’ve read all the way to the ending, my reaction is
Also, I definitely did not see that coming and it serves both Menelaus and Del Azarchel right as the necessary kick in the pants they need to remind them that they are not, in fact, the Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
(c) The duel scene was perfect, even up to the unexpected ending. And drat you sir, you had me wiping tears from my eyes at various points, e.g. when Del Azarchel was talking about the little picture of the Virgin they gave Rania to serve as her mother. I had to keep reminding myself that Blackie is a villain, a murderer, a schemer, an oath-breaker and such because I kept having fits of liking the megalomaniac.
I could throw words like “amazing”, “stupendous”, “magnificent”, “awe-inspiring” and “slapstick humour in the style of the Three Stooges” around but suffice it to say that I am one very satisfied customer and will be a repeat customer for the next volume (God and the publisher willing).