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Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe [Hardcover]

James M. Ward
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 Sep 2005
Halcyon Blithe is a young man of good breeding and lineage who also happens to be endowed with qualities and abilities of a sorcerers nature. Aiming to seek his fortune and fulfil his full potential in the magical world, Blithe gladly accepts his rank as Midshipwizard. In doing so, he becomes a member of the crew who tend and sail the awesome nautical juggernauts-vessels which harness the bodies and strength of living dragons with seafaring technology. Combining elements of Robert Louis Stevenson with Robin Hood, "Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe" is a nautical tale rich in magic and intrigue. A tale set against a panorama of fantastic naval battle as we follow the career of a young midshipwizard as he moves up through the ranks of His Majesty's Navy.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (19 Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765312530
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765312532
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.9 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,615,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Horatio Hornblower meets Harry Potter in a tale of magical martial warfare on the high seas" --Ed Greenwood, Creator of The Forgotten Realms on "Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe"

About the Author

James Ward is both an award-winning and bestselling designer of games and author of gaming fiction. He lives in Elkhorn, WI.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Magic in the navy 10 May 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As the title suggests, this book tells the story of Halcyon Blithe, a midshipwizard freshly out of training. For those thinking midship-what? A midshipman is the name awarded to the lowest (or, according to some sources, second lowest) rank in the US navy. In this story, Midshipwizard is exactly what it suggests: a wizard in the navy. Magic and warfare go hand in hand.

The thing which I like most about Halycon, is that he isn't perfect. He shines in some areas, and is very green in others. He makes mistakes in the story, mistakes which threaten the lives of everyone on board the living dragonboat. I found it was his character, and times humerous interactions with the rest of the crew which kept me reading. There are a few females, but no smush here!

I guessed wrongly about the end of the book, and who the traitor was. I immediately wanted to reread it to spot the clues hinting towards the traitor.

The only thing preventing me from giving this a full star rating is the fact that I kept thinking 'where's the action?'. Don't get me wrong, I loved learning all the ins and outs of life for the midshipwizard, the strange rituals which recruits don't hear about until they happen, the sheer volume of daily tasks that need performing on a ship. I loved the idea of a living boat (well, I grew up with a few living space ships thanks to Anne McCaffrey). The major plot line remained subtle for a fair amount of the story. When things heated up, they did move along at a reasonable pace, and there were moments of 'how will Halcyon survive?'. It just didn't have that extra zing for the fifth star. I'd still have it on my bookshelf :)

The good news is, there's a sequel available now: Dragonfrigate Wizard Halcyon Blithe.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Some good concepts not fully developed 18 Jun 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you're hoping for Hornblower with magic you will be both satisfied and disappointed. Plotwise there is a great deal that seems almost plagarism of C.S. Forrester's Midshipman story. However Ward lacks any indepth characterisation to back up his plot, what there is of it. There are some very interesting concepts which he complete fails to captialise on. The main character completes fails to go on any emotional learning curve nor does he have any emotional baggage to overcome. The book is mainly an introduction to basic ocean going life and articles of war. The battle is very short, very poorly described. The central mystery is absolutely no mystery at all, despite the author's opaque character writing. If you enjoy navel literature with a twist try Honor Harrington by David Weber. This is a light read. A few interesting elements but you can probably do a better job with them on your own than the author makes of them.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Concept, Fairly Good Execution... 5 Sep 2005
By Edward Alexander Gerster - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
James Ward has constructed some very interesting characters, and done a fair bit of world building in this novel of magic on the high seas. Magic works a bit differently here, with a bit of Newtonian cause and effect, and there are a good assortment of demons, giants, sprites and other assorted standard magical creatures. And setting the story in a Horatio Hornblower-like framework was frankly a stroke of brilliance. The problem comes in that the plot is a choppy grouping of chapters that take you through Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe's training in no particular order, with no foreshadowing of things to come, and little insight to his past. There is no clear beginning, middle and end -- but the reader does stay involved in wanting to find out what is still to come. The ending feels unresolved, probably to signal that further tales are to follow.A worthy novel, with a few structural problems, but still worth the read. Recommended.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flying at Half-Mast 11 April 2006
By Ron Edison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Harry Potter meets the Royal Navy is the premise of this new fantasy. I found it shelved in science fiction/fantasy, but it will have strong appeal to younger readers. Given the overall tone of the writing, I suspect this may be its true market, though fans of historical sailing adventures will also be intrigued. My overall impression is more favorable than the comments that follow may seem to indicate. The concept is great, but the execution flags a bit.

Halcyon Blithe is a serviceable protagonist and the events of his first posting, encounters with the crew, etc. are well handled, if a bit clich?; a certain amount of clich? and stereotype are de rigueur in the sailing genre. However, nearly 180 of the 286 novel pages float by before there is any sign of a proper conflict. Most of this is spent orienting readers to everyday life on a sailing ship. Fans of Hornblower & company have been here before, but new readers to the genre may benefit. Blithe's fellow midshipmen are introduced all in one early scene--very promising characters all--but most names are forgotten by the time they play any significant role. As the enemy, the Maleen are rather iconic boogeymen, just so many ducks in a shooting gallery. I expect to see them developed further in sequels.

Ward does a fantastic job with the minutia of sailing and combat at sea. Readers familiar with the tactics and doctrines of Napoleonic naval warfare will appreciate this, but I felt the veneer of fantasy was far too thin. The doctrines of Arcana (British) and the enemy Maleen (French/Spanish) are blatantly obvious to fans of C. S. Forester, Dudley Pope, Patrick O'Brian, and Alexander Kent. I'd like to have seen more imagination at work here. Yet he goes overboard on imagination in the explanation of how the dragonships are designed. This seemed too glib and fanciful to suit me--biologically improbable and impractical.

Ther are nearly 10 pages of songs/sea shanties in the text. Yes, they really sang this sort of thing in days of old, but with no clue as to melody, the songs read as so much nautical blather. A little of this goes a long way--maybe one or two verses at most. Better yet, tie the lyrics into the story with foreshadowing or metaphor. I liked the Articles of War serving as chapter introductions. The chapter titles were a very nice touch--perfect for this type of novel and a practice sadly out of fashion.

Despite the flaws, what this book does well is prime younger readers and perhaps those not familiar with the Hornblower milieu, with a great deal of sailing lore, and ready them for further adventures.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adventure on the high seas! 30 Oct 2006
By N. Burt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am a great lover of fantasy and of adventure novels such as the Hornblower series. I read this book thinking it would be a great and original combination of these to genre . . . and I was correct. I really liked the story and characters in this book. The action kept a good pass and the author did not waste time explain parts of Halcyon's world that we really didn't need to know about. A fantstic concept and a really good read! I recommend it for people who love fantasy and dragons in particular and people who love old time adventure novels. You will not be disappointed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adventure and peril 4 Nov 2005
By Team LitPick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe, the sixteen-year-old protagonist, Halcyon, is a tall, white-haired Arcanian midshipwizard on his marine tour of duty. Before he enters his touring sea dragon ship, the Sanguine, Halcyon Blithe places a good-weather spell on himself to ensure that good weather will smile upon him on his first tour. As expected, the weather is beautiful and the seas are calm. But Halcyon can't hold the bad weather off forever. It seems that a storm has been building up behind Halcyon's spell. When it finally breaks through the spell, the seas and the weather rage. Halcyon's living sea dragon ship is tossed and thrown about on the rough waves. Captain Olden asks Halcyon to check the dragon's heart chamber, to make sure no seawater has touched the heart. Just as Halcyon enters the heart chamber, he sees an officer run out of the other entrance. Halcyon studies the dragon's heart and finds that blast-gel-a gel that is used as gunpowder-has been rubbed all over the dragon's hot, beating heart. He knows that the heart could explode in seconds, killing the dragon that keeps the ship afloat! What should Halcyon do? Who is the saboteur of the ship? Will Halcyon be punished for his well-meaning fair-weather spell that has brought such woe and pain to the sea dragon and its crew? Read Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe to find out!

I really liked Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe. I think that it could have used less profane language, but then again, it is a story with sailors in it! The best part of the book was when Halcyon learned that he could talk to sea dragons, which helps him form a bond with his ship. Since this is a sea-adventure book, I would recommend it to anyone who liked Treasure Island or who enjoys stories of adventure and peril in general and at sea.

Reviewed by a student for Flamingnet Book Reviews
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adventure on the High--and Magical!--Sea 6 Dec 2005
By D. Niles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book takes the classic adventure saga of the young man coming of age on the high seas, and embellishes it with a number of imaginative and exciting flourishes. The book has more in common with the Horatio Hornblower series than it does with Harry Potter. Halcyon Blithe is a wonderful character, and he is surrounded by a supporting cast of proper royal officers and shiver-yer-timbers old salts. Blithe is a novice midshipwizard--emphasis on the wizard--on the good ship "Sanguine". But the ship is more than a setting: it is one of the author's most imaginative creations: a powerful man of war built on the back of a mighty sea dragon! All in all, I recommend this book as a fast and exciting read for any fan of fantasy or adventure.
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