Moment of Truth, by Michael Pryor

‘I have some distressing news.’ She took a breath. ‘Holmland has invaded the Low Countries.’
George smothered an oath. Aubrey clenched his fists and his heart pounded inside his chest…
‘At ten o’clock,’ Lady Rose continued, visibly growing paler, ‘your father is due in the Lower House. He is going to announce that we are at war.’
There it is, Aubrey thought numbly. Such a simple statement: we are at war. Nation against nation, and misery would be the only inevitable outcome.

Aubrey is only days into his training at the Magic Department when everything changes. His father, the Prime Minister, declares Albion is at war. Aubrey and his best friend George are left unsure whether they should enlist against the wishes of their parents.

Soon, though, they are a part of the Special Services, on a mission to gather intelligence. They are reunited with Caroline and are sent to Gallia to investigate mysterious magical emanations. What they find there is horrific – Holmland, and Aubrey’s nemesis Dr Tremaine – is about to unleash an unstoppable horror on the world. Aubrey and his friends must do their best to stop them.

Moment of Truth is the fifth instalment in the steam-punk series, Laws of Magic. Like its predecessors it is a clever blend of wry humour, action and intrigue. With parallels with real-world history, likeable characters and an absorbing plot, this is fantasy as it should be done. Best read in sequence, the titles can be read as stand-alone, but readers who read out of order will likely go looking for the earlier ones.

Great stuff for teens and adults.

Moment of Truth (Laws of Magic)

Moment of Truth, by Michael Pryor
Random House, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Time of Trial, by Michael Pryor

There was no wind. Not a breeze, a zephyr, a fitful gust, nothing at all. Air is never this still, he thought, not even in a tomb. The thought made him shudder.

Having started university, Aubrey Fitzwilliam is trying to focus on his studies. But soon enough he’s thrust into another adventure. On top of all this, a mysterious stranger has appeared, offering Aubrey the chance of a normal life, but could this opportunity be more sinister than it appears? Aubrey finds himself knee-deep in golems, international mystery, emotions, family, trouble and even ghosts.

Time of Trial is the fourth title in the Laws of Magic series, and is another great fantasy story. With plenty to offer Pryor has no trouble writing a new and inventive story, whilst continuing to follow the themes from the previous book. Time of Trial will be best enjoyed by those who have read the earlier books, though could standing alone.

Great fantasy with a touch of reality.

Time of Trial (Laws of Magic)

Time of Trial (Laws of Magic) by Michael Pryor
Random House, 2009

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Also in the Series

Blaze of Glory (2006)
Heart of Gold (2007)
Word of Honour (2008)
Moment of Truth (2010)

Word of Honour, by Michael Pryor

A colossal shock racked the submersible. Aubrey was thrown to the deck. He lay there, alert, his mind racing, wondering what was happening.
The next moment, the Electra was rocked by another immense impact, much greater than the first. Aubrey was hurled against the leg of the table. He gasped as he took the blow on his shoulder and bit back a cry of pain.

With schooldays behind him, Aubrey Fitzwilliam is looking forward to university, and the chance to immerse himself in his magical studies. But, as Aubrey well knows, his life is unlikely to take a steady course. First, he finds himself stranded on a sinking submersible vessel, then on the trail of a plot to rob Albion’s largest bank. With his friends George and Caroline, Aubrey finds himself in more danger than ever before.

Word of Honour is the third title in the amazing Laws of Magic series and will be best enjoyed by those who have read the first two, although it will also stand alone. For fans of the series, there is plenty of the familiar – including the arch-villain Dr Tremaine, and Aubrey’s long-running battle to retain his fragile hold on life, after a failed magical experiment – but Pryor avoids using a formula to repeat the patterns of previous books, and there is plenty of difference here to retain interest, and to leave the reader eager for the next instalment.

With action, intrigue, humour and a colourful cast of characters in a fantasy world which is at once familiar and surprising.

Fantasy at its best.

Word of Honour (Laws of Magic)

Word of Honour (Laws of Magic), by Michael Pryor
Random House, 2008

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.


Blaze of Glory, by Michael Pryor

Before the accident, Aubrey knew he would have completed the challenge without difficulty…he’d always managed to surprise people with his determination in running, boxing or games. Boys much larger than him had learned that provoking skinny Aubrey to fight could be a poor idea. He could drag himself over broken glass if he set his mind to it.
But since the disastrous magical experiment, things were different. Balanced on the edge of true death as he was, physical strain – even emotional strain – could tip him over. He only kept the semblance of a normal existence by a combination of arcane spells and strength of mind. If his magic failed, it would be the end of him.

Aubrey Fitzwilliam is far from being an ordinary boy. His father is an ex-prime minister, his grandmother a dame, and he himself is a skilled magician. But it his magic which has landed him in trouble – because technically Aubrey is dead, even though those around him are unaware of the fact. To complicate matters, two prominent magicians have dies in suspicious circumstances, and an attempt to assassinate the Crown Prince is foiled when Aubrey and his friend George disturb a Golem sent to perform the assassination.

Blaze of Glory is the first in Michael Pryor’s Laws of Magic series, and a first instalment which will have readers eagerly seeking out the next. Aubrey is a nicely flawed main character – good at so many things, but rash and a little arrogant, and unable to communicate with the girl who takes his eye. There is plenty of action and a fantasy world which is delightfully parallel to the real world of pre-World War One, with notable differences including the existence and acceptance of magic.

Suitable for teens and for adult readers, this outstanding tale is as good as fantasy gets.

Blaze of Glory (Laws of Magic)

Blaze of Glory, by Michael Pryor
Random House, 2006

Heart of Gold, by Michael Pryor

Aubrey Fitzwilliam knew that crisis was another word for opportunity. He simply wished that he saw more of the latter and less of the former.

Aubrey Fitzwilliam’s life is never boring. Ordinarily, he wouldn’t mind the excitement but having just finished his final exams, he is hoping for a bit of a break to see the sights of Lutetia with his best friend George. He’s hoping, while he’s there, to find a cure for his condition and to catch up with the lovely Caroline, but soon his family are lining up to give him other tasks to undertake and he’s wondering if there’ll be any time for himself.

In Lutetia, the capital of Gallia, Aubrey and George become aware of strange goings-on. Someone is stealing people’s souls, leaving them as empty shells. Then Aubrey and George witness the theft of the Heart of Gold, the country’s lifeline. Together with Caroline, they set out to find the Heart, stop the soul stealer and restore Lutetia to its glory.

Heart of Gold is the second instalment in the Laws of Magic trilogy. An exciting, well built fantasy, it draws readers in to a world which is at once familiar yet different. The narrative has a comfortable feel, making it easy to read and to believe in, and thoroughly absorbing. Aubrey is a skilled magician, an adventurer and a clever detective, yet he is also very much a teenager, capable of the foibles of youth, and readers will be able to relate to his inadequacies, especially in matters of the heart.

A spellbinding read.

Heart of Gold: Laws of Magic 2

Heart of Gold, by Michael Pryor
Random House, 2007

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.