The dilemma for me for this book is do I put it in Australian April or Magic May? As we are at the end of the month and start of May I return to the question from the start of April- how do you define a book as being Australian? Is it determined by the author or the content or both?
This book has an Australian author but it doesn’t have any sense of “Australian-ness”. It is set in Europe, the language is that of the wealthy classes of England at the turn of the century (1900) and apart from a mention of Australian soldiers as being brave etc (Western Front type stories) there is nothing Australian in it. So perhaps it is better in Magical May.
Blaze of Glory is a fantasy (magic) novel set in a historical context (some would call it steampunk fiction)and the first of the Laws of Magic series. The main character is Aubrey Fitzwilliam who has magical talents. He and his friend George are 17-18 year olds and live in a fictional country that is distinctly like England. In fact, the places they visit and the nearby countries have a remarkable similarity to the countries of Europe. The time frame of this story and the rest of the series is pre WW1 and then WW1. The author mirrors the language of the different classes of England in the early 1900s. At the start of the story, Aubrey and George foil a magical plot to kill the heir the throne. They end up facing a mastermind magician who ends up being the bad guy for the rest of the series (spoiler). Whilst there are many similarities to the Harry Potter series and other fantasy/magic books, this book is different in that magic is a talent within mainstream society rather than a separate, secret world. I must have enjoyed the book as I read the whole series. Also, I was excited enough about reading the books that I bought some of them as e-books as I was not near shops or libraries.
In order to form a stronger opinion I thought I might use the “text to” approach (Text to self, text to world, text to text) – a technique I use with students. (Text to world) Pryor used the early 1900’s and the causes of World War One as the framework for his series. As I am History teacher and know this era I started to predict what would happen next and was always intrigued to see the way Pryor approached the next event. As a steam punk book (fantasy set in the historical past) it also showed a new way of approaching the genre and gave a context for how the characters behave and act. In Pryor’s blog he talks about how his characters speech mirror the language structures of the time. This shows attention to detail. (Text to Text ) I wonder how much Pryor was influenced by the Harry Potter series as he chose two best mates and a very intelligent girl as his main characters (like Harry, Ron and Hermoine). Also, the bad guy (spoiler) is the enemy throughout the series and somehow always survives. (Text to self) I liked the later books better than the first as the characters explored their reactions to war. This made me think of my family members who have either served or lived through war. Based on the above I would recommend the book to others but only if you can suspend reality and enjoy the magical twist on historical fiction.