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Nick Grows Up
on 4 July 2013
This is the second in the 'Magids' novels, focusing on Nick, who was an important character in the previous book but not the central character. If you've read the first book and are expecting to meet the two central characters from that story again, forget it - this time, we are firmly moving on, in that bracing way Diana Wynne Jones has.
Like the previous book, this story is told from two different viewpoints: in one, Nick (who is actually from the Koryfonic Empire but lives in our world) finds himself sucked into the political problems of another world, Blest. The other narrator, Arianrhod, is from Blest and is the granddaughter of a magid (not to mention her other granddad, who is rather more scary) who lives in Blest but is also a successful writer of fantasy novels on earth. This is essentially how their two narratives come together.
For a while, their two stories seem to be quite separate, and actually I found this a little irritating. I enjoyed the bits with Nick more than the bits with 'Roddy', though the Roddy and Gundo story became increasingly interesting as the story progressed. Nick's path crosses with the mysterious Romanov, an independent and highly powerful magic-user, which forms a central element in the complex plot. And, believe me, I found this plot VERY complex (but that might just be me!).
The previous Magid story was aimed at adults and I enjoyed it very much as a kind of children's story for grown-ups - this one felt more like a tale aimed at teenagers, but it was still very gripping, particularly as it got going. There were the usual moments of Diana Wynne Jones humour, and the characters learned about themselves and each other in a non-didactic and plausible way. There are some shocking moments too, and the story twists and turns with characteristic Jonesian slipperiness.
If you like her novels, you'll like this one. As always, though there are some familiar elements, the story is novel, original, full of surprises and a page-turner.