Monday, July 26, 2010

Children’s Books: Moment of Truth: Volume 5, The Laws of Magic by Michael Pryor

There’s a war on in the Edwardian alternative universe of The Laws of Magic. Aubrey Fitzwilliam, son of the Prime Minister of Albion, and his friends George and Caroline, who have spent the last four volumes trying to prevent it, have been recruited as part of the Albionish secret service. War is bad enough in itself, but if this one proceeds for long enough, it will lead to the immortality of the evil Dr. Mordecai Tremaine, former Sorcerer Royal, who has no problem with wiping out as many lives as it takes to perform the magic ritual that will extend his own.

In Michael Pryor’s Moment of Truth (Random House Australia), the trio return to Gallia, scene of their earlier adventures (Heart of Gold, 2007), this time to set up a base for a team of remote magical observers. But nothing ever goes the way it’s meant to go in Aubrey’s world. All bets are off when the three find out what is being manufactured in a Holmland factory belonging to Baron von Grolman ...

If you’re worried about this delightful steampunk series going downhill, as series novels tend to do, don’t be. The fun and the action are there, as always, and the characters remain likable as ever. Aubrey can be worrying about his team-leading skills in one moment, and then how he’s going to tell Caroline his feelings in the next. George is still Aubrey’s solid support. Caroline is elegant and deadly; she doesn’t lose control even when in the presence of Dr. Tremaine, who killed her father. And she’s still capable of reducing Aubrey to mush with a word.

George, Aubrey and Caroline have come a long way since their first outing in Blaze of Glory (2006). They have a little way further to go, with one more novel left in Pryor’s series. It will be sad to say good-bye to these characters, and I suspect I will end up going back and reading the books all over again.

There is a new-style cover on this one; the whole series has been re-packaged to appeal to the young adult audience for which it was originally intended, and to have more of a science-fiction feel. The brooding Aubrey on the front of Moment of Truth appears quite menacing for a young man who hates carrying guns and prefers to use his intellect and skills with magic, but this cover is also very striking and should gather a new set of fans for the series.

If you haven’t read The Laws of Magic yet, what are you waiting for? Go and get the lot, with the great new covers! ◊

Sue Bursztynski lives in Australia, where she works as a teacher-librarian. She has written several books for children and young adults, including Crime Time: Australians Behaving Badly and, most recently, the YA novel Wolfborn. Her blog The Great Raven can be found at

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