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Master of Formalities

Review:

So, I liked it. That should be clear by the five star rat­ing. So, I'll try to ex­plain why.

The au­thor de­scribed it as a cross be­tween Dune and Down­ton Abbey. I had not heard that and then de­scribed it in the ex­act same way on twit­ter.

So: ser­vants of the pow­er­ful wit­ness and ma­nip­u­late the events. I will nev­er be able to read Dune again with­out imag­in­ing Duke Leto "en­cour­ag­ing" Paul while he faces the pain box:

"Fear is the lit­tle death, Paul. Have no fear. No, not like that, NO FEAR I SAID. Is it too hard
what I am ask­ing of you? NO FEAR. Does­n't get any sim­pler than that. Fear? Stop hav­ing it!"

I was al­ready a fan of the au­thor's "Mag­ic 2.0" se­ries. This is not the same kind of book. Mag­ic 2.0 is about ado­les­cent char­ac­ters grant­ed seem­ing­ly un­lim­it­ed pow­er, while this is def­i­nite­ly a book about grownup­s.

For ex­am­ple, at one point you will con­sid­er Lord Jak­abi­tus a buf­foon. And then you will see, through an­oth­er char­ac­ter's eye­s, why he's not. And then he will rub it on your face. There is a lot of rub­bing of things in peo­ple's faces, and peo­ple's faces on things in this book.

It's fun­ny. Not jokey, but re­al­ly fun­ny, not fun­ny like a clown, fun­ny like that fun­ny un­cle that made faces in for­mal din­ners (no, I did not have that un­cle, but I hope you have one!).

All char­ac­ters are com­pe­ten­t. All char­ac­ters have goal­s. All char­ac­ters have iden­ti­ties and act to fur­ther their goals com­pe­tent­ly in the way their per­son­al­i­ties would al­low them. The ac­tion makes (most­ly) sense, ex­cept where it does­n't mat­ter.

And it has awe­some high­-­con­cept gags, like:

* The mind-read­ing me­chan­i­cal chair.
* Hahn cui­sine
* Capozzian cui­sine

I can't rec­om­mend this book strong­ly enough, ex­cept that:

1) Lots of peo­ple will re­al­ly, re­al­ly, re­al­ly hate it.
2) I hope those who read it be­cause I rec­om­mend it don't hate me be­cause of it.


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