I absolutely loved this book!
I’m lucky because I read a lot of great writers, but The Wizard’s Daughters by Michael Dalton isn’t your usual erotica novelette that gives a back-story, a good bang or two, and then leaves you hanging from a cliff waiting for the next installment. This is a book: full and juicy. Its initial scene sets the tone. It focuses on some guards that are shirking their responsibilities and leaving the town gate irresponsibly un-watched. Our hero, Erich, slips over the “guarded wall” under these circumstances. Most erotica books would either start in the mind of the hero or at least with the camera on him. Michael Dalton chooses another route, one of a steady hand ready to weave an intricate tale. The whole novel is well thought out, well laid out, and well slayed out (I mean, there’s a swordsman, cut me some slack on the lame puns). The main character is a down-on-his-luck yet mightily-trained swordsman who gradually reveals that he is from much less modest beginnings. He finds a little bit of good fortune where we pick the story up when the town artificer decides that he needs a bodyguard/guide to accompany him and his otherworldly twin daughters to the nearest city to find a husband. Of course, everything unravels from here (which I’m not going to get into).
Before you download and read this book, consider the world in which this story is set. Each aspect of this story is fully thought out. There isn’t a half-baked sentence, nor an under-cooked character, nor an incomplete thought. Michael Dalton did his homework and provides a fully painted picture which he calls an “alternate history” of pre-reformation Germany. The story is loaded with inventive little mechanisms: robotic carrier pigeons, automatic bath heaters, and fully-functioning, artificial butlers. It’s a period piece, steam-punk, and fairy-tale rolled into one. In other words, it’s Dowton Abbey, Infernal Devices, and Cinderella mashed up. Plus there are two gorgeous twin girls that have fish spirits and know how to make one penis into two. And there’s a ripped swordsman. How can this go wrong?
The writing has the smell of realism, or naturalism–something like Theodore Dreiser. The prose leaves no stone unturned, explaining everything to the fullest–not in excess, mind you. The story really captivated me when telling the tale of how the swordsman, Erich, fell on tough times. Without spoiling the plot, his demise has something to do with his asshole brother. What struck me as Dalton’s really subtle craftsmanship was that I was convoluted inside. Part of me was sympathizing with the prick brother who was out exact horrible revenge on Erich. Here the author’s wields his magic wand on this novel: this conflict creates a massive tension that had me dreading the inevitable chaos and sweating while reading toward it.
I saw some comments on Amazon about the ending being the weak link of the story. I agree that the ending was a bit predictable, but I disagree that this is a weakness in the overall plot. That’s part of the fun of reading the ending: knowing what’s going to happen but wishing something could prevent the character’s trouble. Also, that’s the trade off with this type of Dreiserian writing style: foreshadowing and exhibition make readers pretty aware of the characters and the possible endings. I found that a pleasure. Very believable. The characters are very real and performed true to their characters. See for yourself.
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