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13 April 2012

published ACE, November 2007, paperback. Reviewed by Lyn McConchie.

I picked up the second and fourth books in this series on a recommendation. I liked them so much that I left a comment on the author’s site and with great generosity, he sent me the first and third in the series. I’m told that the series, if not definitely dropped, is certainly on hiatus and I’m sorry about that. It’s excellent work, I’ve really enoyed the books to date and I’d planned to keep buying them. It makes me sad to think that after only four books, the series may have ended.

The characters are interesting. There’s Mason, magic-user, musician, previously an enforcer making those who misuse their talents change their minds about doing that, and currently mostly broke. Like all good magic practitioners Mason has a sidekick, in this case something that looks like a Black and Tan Manchester (Terrior) but isn’t. Louie is an Ifrit and has abilities – some of which are not always apparent. There’s Victor, originally Mason’s employer and determined to police those who prefer the dark side, and Eli, older,  Mason’s mentor, and rather a nice guy. Musicians, other magic-users, and many people that are neither wander in and out – and most survive.

One thing becomes clear quite early on in the book. Mason’s ability to improvise musically, matches his ability to do that magically. I found the tie between music and magic attractive and believable as well. (No, I have NO musical talent,  but I love many forms of music and regret my lack of ability.) I also liked that the author didn’t feel the need to go into massive info. dumps of how all  that worked, he trusted me to pick it up from hints and clues as I read, and to take some on faith. (If I’m reading a book with a Christian background, I don’t need another book’s worth of information on the Christian religion crammed in, in terminally boring ten-page-at-a-time expositions and I can’t see why some readers seem to want that.)

Attacks on him begin as Mason finds that someone seems intent on either seeing how good his magical abilities are or just plain getting him out of the way.  A man needs friends at his back, so Mason takes his troubles to Eli, and Victor, (well, not exactly a friend in Victor’s case,) and things escalate as Mason discovers that he isn’t the only one who is being attacked. So far there’s been one death, but there’s nothing to say events will stop with one. Mason, Eli and Victor need to unravel the growing danger that looks likely to affect the entire magical community if it’s left to continue,  since another magic-user is stealing power from those who have it, and they seem to have decided that Mason may be a bump in their road to that. If he can’t work out who’s responsible fairly quickly, friends may die.

I found Dog Days a read that grabbed me, hauled me in, and kept me glued to the pages until I’d finished. In fact the first book that I read from this series had me up until very late one night since I wasn’t prepared to quit until I’d finished reading. The characters are good, you recognize them as people, in fact minus the magic I could name a couple of people I know who are very like Eli and Victor…and Mason, come to think of it. The background is fully realized and with just sufficient odd corners to it that the potential of both the mundane world and the magic overlap are fun, often unexpected, and now and then scary. I understand that the author is working on a YA book that may have Mason and Louie as secondary characters and that’ll be better than nothing so I’m watching out for it. Sigh. I just wish that there’s been more than the four books in this series before it broke off. And that maybe, one day soon, it’ll resume too and I can get more of Mason and Louie to read at the times when I’m not writing. because they’re a very good read.



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