Monday, July 20, 2020

"Macario's Scepter" by M. J. McGriff

Y'all know that fantasy is not one of my go-to genres.  A fantasy book has to have something going on in it besides "it's fantasy" for me to want to read it.  Is it by an author I already admire?  Is it a retelling of a story I'm familiar with?  Is it crossed with another genre that does automatically draw me, like detective stories or westerns?  Or does it have some random thing I can't resist?  Like, you know, cowboys or vampires or pirates?

Yup, pirates.  Man, I love pirates.  I really don't read enough pirate books, but I'm starting to fix that.  I used to love to read true histories of pirates when I was a kid, the more blood-curdling, the better (well, as blood-curdling as a nonfiction pirate biography aimed at an 8-yr-old is going to get, anyway).  And I adore pirate movies.  I even hosted a pirate movie blogathon a few years ago.

Anyway, about Macario's Scepter.  I have mixed feelings about this book.  I very much enjoyed the piratical parts, and the pirate captain, Baz Blackwater, was very cool.  But he wasn't really around that much, and he didn't get very well developed until really close to the end, I didn't think.  In the last 40 pages or so, all of a sudden he got lots of character development and lots more page time, and that was definitely my favorite part of the book.

Most of this book focused on twin sisters Samara and Seraphina -- one of them discovers she's a Chosen One who can do magic, and the other is a kind of priestess/devotee of the made-up magical religion that infuses the titular scepter with power.  Samara used to be in love with the pirate captain, Baz, and they spent a lot of time in this book thinking about how sexy the other person was and how beautiful their muscles or shapely legs or other body parts are. And they spent a lot of time thinking it's too bad they couldn't kiss each other anymore.  None of which is my jam, but I'm sure many people like that style of romance, so you know... that's just a personal preference thing.

The story was pretty engaging, with the Chosen One having to defeat sea monsters and stuff.  The action scenes were pretty good, though the descriptions of the exotic islands and various sunny locales was better.  The book as a whole could use a better proof reader, though.

The one thing I really disliked in this book was that one of the main antagonists was named Priest Christian.  For a book that has zero reference to Christianity in it and seems to take place in a made-up world, having a bad guy blatantly named "Priest Christian" felt like a deliberate slap in my face.  I'm so tired of bad guys being named Christian or Christy or Christopher -- it's not even subtle, folks.  You want to declare you think Christians are bad, well, it's a free country, but maybe be clever about it?  I'm not saying that M. J. McGriff did this on purpose, because maybe she didn't, but it sure felt purposeful, and I was offended.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-16 for some violence, a LOT of bad language, discussions of prostitution and sexual relationships, and the aforementioned ogling.  There weren't any love scenes, only a few kisses and the mental longing for more.  There's also a lot of magic, but it's clearly pretend magic and didn't bother me.

This is my 26th book read for #TheUnreadShelfProject2020.




    1. Eva, LOL! Well, maybe I will! I mean, not right now, but maybe later this fall? Let's see, I've got Legends of Western Cinema Week in August and the annual Tolkien Blog Party in September... maybe October?

  2. Me: *looks at my Western cowboy magic fantasy series*
    Me: *cackles*

    1. Katie, yup, definitely a market for historical fantasy books!


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