Wizard’s Bane by Rick Cook

Wizard's Bane by Rick Cook

I’m not much into fantasy, but this book caught my eye. Well, actually, my boss recommended it and it intrigued me. The one line description: a Unix programmer is pulled into another world where he develops a programming language for magic. That was enough to spark my interest.

Now, I’m not much of a programmer; mostly I can muck around with higher languages a little. Still, I understand enough to appreciate some of the finer points mentioned in the book. Don’t get turned off if you aren’t a programmer though. This is still a fun book.

Wiz, our hero, steps out of his office and into a strange world. He has just been sucked away from Silicon Valley into a world ruled by magic. The great wizard that summoned him is promptly killed by the Dark League; that would be before he tells anyone why he summoned Wiz in the first place. That leaves Wiz with a hedge witch named Moira fleeing the Dark League. Fleeing straight through the dangerous Wild Wood toward safety.

A good portion of the book details their flight to safety. Wiz is lost and confused; Moira bitter and resentful about her “babysitting” job. Wiz, while self-pitying, is also a bit of a martyr. He’s unprepared for this new life (he’s a programmer after all) and no one seems willing to recognize his frustration at being unceremoniously dumped into a foreign lifestyle with no preparation. They don’t particularly care about him nor understand why he was considered valuable.

Wiz is no magician, but he has an interesting skill. He can program. Everyone in this world can perform magic, but only wizards have skill at it. Wiz desires to create a programming language that will allow non-wizards to be able to run safely magical “programs.” (This idea of democratization of power is an interesting discussion and is being explored in the sequel that I am now reading.)

Once Moira is kidnapped and sequestered in the heart of the Dark League’s capital, Wiz enters a one man crusade against the evil. A non-wizard begins wages war on the strongest magical army on the planet. The stuff epics are made of….

Still, this was a fun book. Even if you don’t get into fantasy or programming, I’d love for you to pick up this relatively short book and tell me what you think. (There is some profanity.) I’d like to hear what other people think of this story and whether or not the whole programming thing works for you. Personally, I enjoyed it. What about you?

Say, anyone here have any programming experience? My best efforts can be found on this site: hit the forensics tab at the top of the page. That’s the best I’ve done. (And if you ask my old college professors, that’s probably miraculous as well….)



8 thoughts on “Wizard’s Bane by Rick Cook

  1. Hm, I’m not a programmer or anything like that. 🙂
    Though this book does catch my interest, next time my sister is at the library (which is often) I think I’ll tag along and try to borrow it.
    Thanks for bringing this book to our attention Matt!
    I’ll let you know what I think after I’ve read it. 🙂

  2. Johann,

    Does that fact make you interested in reading it? Color me nosey….

    Also, care to write another review for me?

  3. Pretty much, the whole idea of beating off the bad guys with a magical programming language. Doe it promote wizardry? or getting rid of wizardry?

  4. Great question. The answer (in book two) is both. Magic is slowly oppressing the general masses of people, but with this new found power, they are liberating themselves from the control of Wizards and the magical environment. There are downsides though to giving too much power to a former slave/servant/minion. Consider Proverbs when the wise man writes about the dangers of a servant who becomes king….

    In this case, it minimizes wizardry, but also allows everyone to practice magic. In the sense that they can perform acts using magic. So far, in book 2, the only spell the people have is one that blocks magic – a defensive spell. But, that alone grants immense power to those who were once subjected to whims of good and bad wizards and the oppressive magic out in the wild woods.

  5. I don’t think I’ll have time to read this. It does sound interesting, though. Unfortunately, I am going to be in a real time crunch the next few months. I am doing a lot with speech and debate, among other things. I just got finished reading a 450 page book. I sent you a review of it, but, ah, I forgot to proof read and revise it. I’ll send you a finished version later or tomorrow. Keep up the Faith!

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