Tag Archives: K.E. Mills

Review of Wizard Undercover – Book 4 of the Rogue Agent series by K.E. Mills

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If you happen to come upon this book and you haven’t read the three previous books, The Accidental Sorceror, Witches Incorporated and Wizard Squared – don’t. Go back to the beginning and track down these other books, first. Otherwise there will be a whole raft of asides and references that you will simply miss or find irritating, which would be a real shame.

This is a really interesting fantasy series – it started off quite light with plenty of humour and some sharp-tongued exchanges between the main characters, who nonetheless are very fond of each other. But in the third book of the series, the whole premise takes a left turn into something a whole lot nastier and darker, making Wizard Squared a compelling page-turner. So, can Mills sustain that angst and tension in Wizard Undercover?

Wedding bells are ringing for the constantly battling nations of Splotze and Borovnik and the upcoming royal nuptials could at last putwizardundercover an end to their dangerous hostilities. But in a development that hardly bodes well, one of Gerald’s fellow janitors goes missing – after delivering a dire warning of danger surrounding the marriage treaty. So Gerald must embark on a perilous mission to uncover the troublemakers, before wedded bliss becomes international war. But going undercover isn’t as easy as it looks, even with Melissande and Emmerabiblia for camouflage. Soon Gerald finds himself fighting for his life as well as world peace.

But poor old Gerald is still reeling from his terrible experiences in the previous instalment – should someone still traumatised and possibly unstable be sent out without a suitable recovery time? And if international relations and potential war looms, is that sufficient reason to also risk two spirited young women? These are the kinds of moral questions that confronts Gerald’s devious superior, Sir Alec.

Other than that, we still have the wonderfully bossy Reg, a talking bird who has adopted Gerald and has a frighteningly indepth knowledge of all sorts of gnarly magic – although there are now some uncomfortable issues around Reg, after the fallout from shocking events described in the previous book… There is a love interest between Gerald and his best friend’s sister, Emmerabiblia Markham. However after the last book, where all these characters were confronted with a terrible evil and many of them simply didn’t prevail, there is the after-echo of that experience that still reverberates through this story. I found it added a darker twist that Mills skilfully played on throughout the book.

I was worried that after the last book, I would find this something of an anti-climax, but of course Mills is far too experienced and adept to commit that kind of crime against her readers. While this episode in the series doesn’t hit the same savage climaxes as those in Wizard Squared, there is still plenty of tension and pace as Gerald desperately tries to pinpoint exactly who is creating such vile magic. I also very much appreciated the fact that Mills isn’t minded to roll her adventures blithely forward without showing the battle scars still evident in all her main characters after their terrible experiences. All in all, a great addition to the series which left me wanting more.
8/10

Review of The Accidental Sorcerer by K.E. Mills

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Do you groan every time you come to the end of a Diana Wynne Jones tale? Or pine for another Neil Gaian masterpiece? Fear not, I’ve found you another author with the same quirky humour and deft storytelling skills. For those of you interested in such things, K.E. Mills has also written the fine fantasy Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology – a thoroughly worthwhile read – under the name Karen Miller.accidentalsorcerer She has also written some of the Stargate and Star Wars tie-in novels, so is thoroughlyexperienced as a science fiction/fantasy writer – and it shows.

Gerald Dunwoody is a wizard. Just not a particularly good one. He’s blown up a factory, lost his job and there’s a chance that he’s not really a Third Grade wizard after all. Career disaster strikes again. Luckily, an influential friend manages to get him a post. So it’s off to New Ottosland to be the new court Wizard for King Lional. His back-up, an ensorcelled bird with a mysterious past, seems dubious. But it’s New Ottosland or nothing.

Unfortunately, King Lional isn’t the vain, self-centred young man he appeared to be. With a Princess in danger, a bird-brained back-up and a kingdom to save, Gerald soon finds himself out of his depth. And if he can’t keep this job, how can he become the wizard he was destined to be…?

All the characters are well drawn, particularly the main protagonist, whose flounderings are nicely counter-pointed by his humorous musings and his constant fights with the bird who has adopted him. It is the slight eccentricity of all the characters that I find so appealing. From the no-nonsense Princess – whose tweedy efficiency put me in mind of my PE teacher – to Rex, Gerald’s feathered companion no one in this novel is exactly normal. Just as in Wynne Jones tales, when events continue to stack up, there is an initial false sense of security before the narrative becomes a whole lot darker in tone and action. The story steadily pulls you in – and by the time the climax crackles across the pages, it is impossible to put the book down.

Despite having the memory of a concussed goldfish where books are concerned, I generally remember Gaiman’s and Wynne Jones’s offerings – and I suspect it will be the case with this book.
9/10