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Book Review – The Mystic Accountants by Will Macmillan Jones

MysticAccountantsTitle: The Mystic Accountants (Book 2 in The Banned Underground series)
Author: Will Macmillan Jones
Publisher: Safkhet Publishing, Copyright 2012
Genre: Contemporary Comic Fantasy

This comic farce follows a rock band of (mostly) dwarves on a quest to obtain a replacement for a magical throne they inadvertently destroyed during a gig. Their efforts are complicated by a group of evil, magic using accountants that wants to stop them in order to weaken and then invade the underground dwarfish kingdom, and a strange religious cult that wants to take over the world, or at least Wales, and skim some profits from the endeavor. There are also a couple of dragons, a few humans, and a testy witch who resolves disputes by turning her opposition into frogs.

The book is set in a fantasy version of contemporary Britain. As an American reader who last visited England at about the time of the first Moon landing, some of the references escaped me, although I don’t necessarily consider this a detractor. I’ve never visited Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, at least not physically, but I still enjoy reading about it. I just thought I should mention this for my countrymen because this book does assume the reader is familiar with British geography and jargon.

The Mystic Accountants is a zany romp that sometimes reminded me of The Three Stooges because of its slapstick humor or It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in that it has a large cast of quirky characters and unlikely car chases. The central plot, that of finding and procuring a new throne, takes a backseat to the antics of the characters, which are sometimes quite funny. They are more like clowns than they are believable individuals, though. There is some very clever wordplay, but the dialog felt contrived for the sake of a joke at times.

Witty banter is probably the strongest aspect of this book, although it may be being called upon to do too much. I saw several places in which dialog between characters was the primary method for conveying the action and describing the setting, which made these scenes difficult to visualize, at least for me. There were also cases in which the scene shifted without an obvious scene break using a blank line or some other convention.

The book contains footnotes, an obvious nod to Terry Pratchett, but, at least in the Kindle version I read, these were placed at the end of the book rather than the bottom of the applicable page, making them less accessible to enhance the scenes they referred to.

Whereas I would not group this book in the same category as Pratchett’s witty satire, it has its moments. Fans of zany slapstick, especially those with a fondness for popular music from the 1960s and 1970s, might want to try it.

Book Review – Boomsday by Christopher Buckley

This cynical farce of American politics includes a cast of disreputable characters. There are several ambitious politicians, a self-appointed spokeswoman for her generation on a crusade against Social Security (which she seems to have only a superficial understanding of), a fundamentalist Baptist minister (crusading against just about everything), and a slimy PR executive (who may be the most rational of the bunch). The people in this book are they type you would be best off avoiding, if possible, insofar as all, despite their differences, share one characteristic — that of negotiable integrity.

The lack of an admirable protagonist, however, does not prevent the book from being likable. It’s fun in a rather juvenile way, a low comedy in which the characters continually make and break agreements, deceive, lie, manipulate, betray and backstab one another. The characters are not thoroughly detestable, and we can sympathize at times, but mostly we laugh at their misfortune because, after all, they’re really not all that likable. What is amazing is that any of them ever buy the BS the others are trying to sell to them. They should know better.

I won’t say this is a great book, but insofar as my overall opinion of politics and politicians tends toward the cynical side, I got a laugh or two out of it. In my more rational moments, I doubt Washington insiders are as lacking in integrity and good judgment as the characters in this book, but sometimes I have to wonder.

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