Old Bony Blue Eyes
A Clockpunk Wizard Story
The story starts by plunging the reader into an exciting fight between Bright, wizard Kadmeion's half-elf clockworks magician assistant, and a Goon sent by Lady Betrayal to collect on a favor owed her by Kadmeion herself. After traveling by airship to meet with Betrayal, Kadmeion, Bright, Furgo(Kadmeion's weredog), and the airship's crew(including a host of fey)are sent on a quest that will pit Kadmeion against Death himself, Old Bony Blue Eyes, in a game of chance. Will Kadmeion win access to the item Betrayal has sent him for, or will he spend the next five years of his life in servitude to Death?
The story moves at a brisk pace with very few lulls along the way. Burke displays a mastery of witty humor and dialogue, giving her writing a fun, lighthearted feel. However, she also proves she can adeptly pull a complete 180 and go straight for the heart when necessary. I especially enjoyed all dialogue involving Kadmeion. His personality bears a perfect blend of sarcasm, wit, and obliviousness. For having no concept of how humor works, Kadmeion provides plenty of laughs.
Burke also is amazing at keeping the story from becoming bogged down by details, giving the reader just what they need to imagine the world she has created, a trait highly lacking in many modern fantasy books. That's not to say that she hasn't created a fully realized world; Burke has obviously taken her time to create a unique world full of interesting characters and proves to have a solid grasp on how things work in it. She just has the whole "show, don't tell" concept down pat.
When I first started Old Bony Blue Eyes, I felt it mainly targeted younger readers, namely young adult. However, the further I got into the story, I began to see many of the more adult themes and concepts woven throughout Burke's prose, making the story appropriate for a wide variety of ages while still keeping it entertaining for adults(well, for me, at least).
There are a lot of unique ideas in this story. Casting magic through song is a novel spin on typical fantasy magic systems. I love the concept of an island-filled world that is traveled by airship, though I wish there were more instances of exploring this aspect(to be fair, maybe the first two books have more of this).
I feel that the end of the story could've used a greater sense of danger for the protagonists, especially after the deadlier threats faced earlier on in the book. Part of this is because Kadmeion has a tendency to recognize opportunities that may present themselves if things do not go as planned. The climax is clever and fun, but it lacked a little in tension for me.
But don't get me wrong, Old Bony Blue Eyes is a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to any fans of the fantasy genre looking for a fun, exciting adventure. Burke has created an amazing world that I will definitely be visiting again soon when I have time for the first two entries in the series.
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