Review Blog

Dec 21 2010

Blaze of glory by Michael Pryor

cover image

Random House, 2010. ISBN 9781864718621.
Michael Pryor slowly and descriptively builds a detailed view of Albion, an England like land at the time of the late 19th, early 20th Century. He carries the reader into the life of Aubrey Fitzwilliam, a student in his final year of school, who happens to do magic as one of his subjects. Aubrey is clever and impetuous. He is intrigued by magic, its history and refinement, but still has a lot to learn about it. Clandestine research into death magic leaves Aubrey literally holding his body and soul together with magic, and keeping the resulting precarious health a secret from all but George, his loyal friend.
Not wanting to embarrass his family, and a certainty that he will be able to rectify any problem on his won eventually leads to his keeping his condition a secret. Son of a parliamentarian, and related to the king, Aubrey, is determined to succeed on his own without assistance. George, supports him through his sometimes hair raising experiences which seem to escalate after he meets the mysterious Dr. Tremaine. Magic however doesn't help Aubrey from becoming tongue tied when he meets the lovely, talented suffragette, Caroline Hepworth.
Aubrey confidently leads George and Caroline to try and solve the many dilemmas - kidnappings, murders, and secret societies. Just how and why these are related isn't revealed to the characters until the last pages.
The satisfaction of reading Blaze of Glory is reminiscent to that of reading J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, but perhaps demands an older starting audience. Secondary readers, and proficient upper primary students, who have a penchant for a real world with a bit of magic, will enjoy this fantastic narrative, part mystery, part adventure, part magic. Even adults will not be immune to its magic. I personally can't wait to read the next in the series to see if the same momentum, beautiful language and complexity of plot continue.
S. Whittaker

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