The Wizardry Compiled

July 4th, 2003 Comments Off

The Wizardry Compiled is the second installment in The Wiz Biz series, by Rick Cook. The series, for those who never heard of it, tells the story of Wiz Zumwalt, a Silicon Valley programmer that is unwillingly summoned to another world to help in a war waged between two powerful magical factions: the Council of the North and the Dark League. Arriving at this magical world, Wiz finds that he has no magic of his own and that people are trying to kill him because they believe otherwise. Pressured, he turns to the only thing he really knows, programming, and creates a whole new kind of magic. The result is a funny and good-humored book, rich in references to the programming world, and able to stand on its own in the fantasy genre. If you are a programmer, you will certainly enjoin the book premises.

(Note: The paragraph bellow contains parts of the story. If you don’t like to know about a book before reading it, please skip directly to my other comments about the book itself.)

The second book starts a year after the events told in the first book. Wiz has defeated the Dark League and won the love of beautiful Moira. He then joins with the Council of the North and begins work in a magical compiler meant to be used by wizards and common folk alike. However, because of the unwillingness and fear of his new magic, his work progresses slowly and Wiz inadvertently gains a lot of enemies because of his lack of political skills and patience. Although the work in the compiler is not finished, Wiz also takes time to create some new spells to help common folk to deal with magical threats. Unfortunately, those spells begin to display some unwanted collateral effects resulting in the immortal peoples uniting against humankind. Everything gets worse when Wiz is kidnapped by the remnant of the Dark League forcing Moira — now his wife — to return to our world to recruit a team of programmers to finish Wiz’s magical compiler in time to arm humankind for the coming war. Wiz has then to find a way to save himself and save humankind from the threat poised by the immortal peoples.

All in all, I liked this second book better than the first one. Although I still think the story could gain if the book was expanded in a larger one, the themes started in the first book were better developed and the story flows in a more interesting way. Also, the humoristic side of the narrative was improved without damaging the story itself. I especially loved the chapter headings with common sayings in programming and the use of stages of compilation and execution as parts’ titles, although they may be not so funny to other readers.

The narrative follows the style introduced in the first book, and gets more convincing in some parts with the introduction of new characters and ideas. Some characters were unnecessary, in my opinion, but they don’t hinder the flow of the story either. On the other hand, other new characters form a new background that can be explored in the next books — as I believe they will. In short, the book was well worth the time I spent reading it.

Once again, I recommend the series — especially considering that its two first books are completely free. I have already bought the two next books, and from what I have read about them they will be even better than the first two. If you are a fan of science fiction and fantasy, be sure to check those books and the other offerings in the Baen Free Library.

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