Saturday, May 22, 2010

SpellCrash by Kelly McCullough

I thought this book had been released a few weeks ago, but I see that the official release date is actually May 25. Either that's wrong, or I wasn't supposed to get my hands on this copy so soon. I blame B&N. Anyway, May 25 is just a few days away so I'll go ahead and post my review.

SpellCrash is the fifth book in the WebMage series, and the last. There's a lovely little loophole at the end that allows for further books with the main characters Ravirn and Melchior, and which gives us a glimpse at the two characters' futures even if there aren't anymore books. I really appreciate when an author does that.

I reviewed the previous two books in this series recently, CodeSpell and MythOS. In SpellCrash, Ravirn and his webgoblin buddy Melchior are back home from the Norse MythOS they visited in the last book, and they've brought a couple of friends with them. It's a good thing they did, since the goddess Necessity--who runs the multiverse as a sentient computer network of sorts--is in even worse shape than she was when they left, and they're going to need all the help they can get to set things right. The book's tagline is "Prepare for a total systems failure," and that's pretty much accurate. Ravirn and Mel are the only ones in a position to save Necessity--or destroy her once and for all.

The action is fast and interesting, as always for these books. One of the things I really like about this series is that, while Ravirn and Mel face similar problems in each book, they have to solve the problems with radically new techniques each time. This time around, for instance, Ravirn discovers he can't jack into the web with his spirit athame as he used to, and he has to find a workaround. This makes for much more interesting reading than a series where the hero uses the same methods to succeed every time.

I was surprised and pleased with the ending. For one thing, it becomes obvious about halfway through that this is the last book in this series, so when things started to look very bad for our heroes, I really suspected a downer ending. That wasn't the case, fortunately, but the ending did hold a number of surprises and twists--twists that weren't at all contrived. The plotting in these books is excellent.

Ravirn started off as a likable character in the first book, and he's become more complex with each book without losing his likability. I really hope Kelly McCullough writes more about him and Mel; if he doesn't, though, I'll still be on the lookout for McCullough's next book.

B&N link

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