Saturday, March 13, 2010

CodeSpell by Kelly McCullough

CodeSpell is the third book in this series, after WebMage and Cybermancy. They're both really good, and I bought MythOS, the fourth book, this afternoon. From the titles, you can guess this series is a mixture of magic and technology. I bet you wouldn't guess the Greek mythology part, though.

In cold blood, the notion that Greek gods and powers run the universe using a system of magical technology sounds really stupid. Somehow, though, McCullough makes it work--so well, in fact, that by the third book I don't even have to suspend my disbelief anymore than I have to suspend my disbelief that sending an email is just like sending a paper letter through regular mail. As far as I'm concerned, it's all magic.

Ravirn is the hero of the books, a self-described hacker and cracker. I won't try and recap the whole series, and I can't tell you too much about this book without spoilering the first two. I'll just say that Ravirn's now known (against his will) as Raven and has become a minor power of chaos. The events of the second book have left the universe in disarray; in essence, Necessity (and by extension, the mweb) has been targeted with a magical virus that nearly took down all of existence. During the confusion, the goddess Nemesis was released and has now targeted Ravirn; as if that wasn't bad enough, his girlfriend is pissed at him and a Fury has the hots (literally) for him.

I get the feeling that my lack of tech knowledge means I'm missing layers of this book that others would enjoy (Lertulo, I'm looking at you here), but I do like the characters. Ravirn is thoughtful but impulsive, a normal guy and a power of chaos at the same time. His best friend in the whole world is his webgoblin Melchior. I like that this book continues the series's theme of Ravirn pushing for AI rights. In the books, the webgoblins, webtrolls, and other AI creatures made for helping with spells have soulsl--but most people refuse to acknowledge that they're not just constructs that can be discarded once they're no longer useful. Ravirn's friendship with Mel is touching and realistic.

The books are quick reads. While there's a lot of exposition about how the mweb works and so forth (which I just sort of blip over since I don't understand most of it), there's a lot of action too. I sometimes find the minor characters interchangeable and the writing is more serviceable than brilliant, but the good far outweighs those issues.

B&N link

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