The Magic of Physics

Had my college physics professor used this book to explain things, or at least reduced some of the tougher concepts down to the 18776630distilled version we get in Intangible, by C.A. Gray, I totally might have done better in class.  At least it would have held my attention longer and I wouldn’t have wanted to throw myself off the roof tops of the science building before every physics exam.  Using physics to explain magic was a brilliant way to keep the fantastical story some-what grounded in realty.  It was also a great way to allow a character to explain certain elements or foundation blocks of the world being created, without it feeling forced.

I thought there were so many wonderful aspects of this story.  The writing was good and the characters were believable.  What was I excited about?  Lots. While there are lots of things that reminded me a lot of Harry Potter, that was ok.  Let’s face it, while teleportation (or Apparition as JKR calls it) isn’t exactly a concept unique to Harry Potter, the **crack** associated with that action is something that reminds me specifically of Harry Potter.  Here’s what you get to read about (and what made me think of Harry Potter): magical creatures (the one nimbi reminded me so much of Peeves); battles with real swords and with magical force fields alike (a dime-a-dozen in this genre); a prophecy (Order of the Phoenix and Prof. Trelawney); a secret city – castle and all – in the middle of England that people can’t find or if they stumble on it, it looks old and run-down (Hogwarts or the Quidditch WC Field); books which show the reader things (Tom Riddle’s diary showing Harry the (planted) Aragog scene); magical coins that get warm under certain conditions (Dumbledore’s Army’s fake galleons); the Ancient Tongue (sounded a lot like various spells and charms – I was waiting for wingardium levosia); tapping the wall to enter the secret library (getting from the Leaky Cauldron to Diagon Alley); the Sorcerer’s Stone (do I really even need to do the comparison?) and the old grey haired wise man of Isdemus (Dumbledore, anyone?).  And there were ideas that weren’t necessarily reminiscent of Harry Potter, but were certainly not new to the genre (multiple people the prophecy could be about, even at the book’s end; use of other dimensions; the trio of kids (Peter, Lily and Cole) who almost always seem to be 2 boys and 1 girl; parent’s hiding stuff from the children; a long-lost twin; etc.). That said, there were also some unique ideas.  I point again to the intertwining of physics and actual science with the story.  And, it at least felt like the author did some excellent research in preparing to write this.

For the most part, the book was well paced and there was plenty of action and magic.  The plot is off to a good start and there’s lots of room for character development and a good base of it too.  I am hard pressed to find much to criticize.  While the earlier comparison to Harry Potter may seem like criticism, it isn’t.  While there were similarities, there were also plenty of differences and nuisances that made it clear that even if JK Rowling’s wonderful works were inspiration, there is definitely a different story at work here.  All the King Arthur mythology driving the story is a nice difference.  And there was so much of it, given to us through the wonderful device of the Riddle’s Diary like book – we learn about Lancelot, Arthur, Cecily, Morgana, Camelot, Excalibur… and it is all now there ripe for the what ever plot points the next books need.  This installment is clearly a set up for what I see goodreads has as two more books.  And it was a well crafted start.  The world building was just enough to set the tone and create a well developed picture but there is still room for so much more.  There was only one thing that felt a tiny bit off, and that was around a decision of Peter’s – because I didn’t feel we (or Lily) had quite enough history with him to justify or expect certain self-destructive behavior.  But that was easily forgotten and forgiven with the action that followed.  I also think the action, the magical battle, was well paced and written and I can’t remember reading a battle that took so much care to explain it all and have everything line up, in quite some time.  Well done!

Overall, I can’t wait to read the next installment.

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