Last year I finally got around to reading and reviewing the first book in Michael Pryor’s The Laws of Magic — a rather splendid YA blend of steampunk and magic called Blaze of Glory. Earlier this year I read the second book, Heart of Gold, and now it’s time to tell you about it.
Heart of Gold continues the adventures of Aubrey Fitzwilliam, teenaged son of Albion’s Prime Minister. He is resourceful, magically talented, a touch on the arrogant side and with a knack for being in the wrong place at the right time. Together with his best friend George, he sets off on a holiday to the Gallian capital of Lutetia. Although the journey has been partly inspired by the prospect of visiting Caroline Hepworth (the object of his affections), who is studying in Lutetia, it soon turns into a series of errands for other people. But with the looming threat of war, political intrigues and espionage are not far away. It seems that a quiet holiday is the last thing that Aubrey and George are going to get.
In my review of Blaze of Glory I waxed lyrical about Pryor’s use of language, his wonderfully detailed and original setting and his intriguing characters. Heart of Gold takes these things and runs with them. It is exciting and thoughtful and a joy to read. I particularly like the fact that Aubrey has a serious lapse of judgment in his dealings with Caroline. His behaviour is extremely selfish and unlikeable. And yet he is still, overall, a likeable character. It is a nice touch in the humanisation of Aubrey.
What particularly struck me when reading this book, is the epic quality of the greater story. You see, like the Harry Potter books, these novels are each individual stories that come together to create a greater whole. Reading Heart of Gold I could see the seeds of future plots. The villain was revealed in the first book, as were his goals… and you can see his influence all through the events of this book, even though he is not physically there.
I’m only two books in to this six-book series, but I can feel the excitement mounting. I can’t wait to find out what happens next. But I can also sense the upcoming loss. After two books I have become emotionally invested in the characters… and I know that their journeys will conclude in just four books time.
Reading a great series of books can be such a bittersweet experience.
And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Catch ya later, George
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