Sunday, January 10, 2021

Review: Educated Luck, by Mel Todd

In the last book of Mel Todd's "My Luck" series, the heroine, Cori, was outed as a wizard. An insanely super powerful wizard who has managed to largely screw up her own life without even knowing how.

In this case, "Yer a Wizard, Cori" is not the end to her troubles. It only makes things worse.

Educated Luck is the logical follow-up. Because, as par for the course in this world, magic equals mandated education, paid for by the government, leading from there into the draft. Which is a dark rabbit hole that looks more like a Sarlaac pit.

But before she can dive into that problem, the problem comes to her. A plot thread from book one emerges to make her life a little more difficult: an inheritance from a mage researcher, who wants to gift Cori his notes. The catch? She must finish her degree in a year and a half. It's not impossible. She has a triple associates degree from the first book. How hard can it be?

Except that if she doesn't finish the degree by the deadline, the notes go to the government of Japan, and its Emperor. Who is still a little miffed that America nuked one of his cities by accident in World War II.

And Cori can't finish if she's dead.

Educated Luck might be the best book Mel Todd has written. There's no character clutter. This perfectly balances world building, plot, and character.

I had two big objections to Employed Luck. The first was that it was too cluttered and tried to do too much. This avoids that particular trap deftly. The other problem involved two "historical notes" that talked about how everyone was pagan, death to traditional religion. Blah blah blah. Aside from the fact that I didn't buy it, it felt callous--it was both irrelevant to the story, and insulting to my intelligence as a historian, among other things.


Given how much behind the scenes government tyranny we see here, I'm almost glad of it. If it was a deliberate retcon, cool. If it was always in the plan, even better. Given how much is revealed about the magic, media and government here, even the historical notes from the book are suspect, as they are "official" documentation.

Yes, it's interesting. I thought most of Educated Luck would revolve around all the variations on academia. Not quite satire, but magic exaggerating tendencies that are already there. This one focused more on governments and alternate history than education. Though, frankly, I would have liked a little bit more of the background on the alternate history--any World War II that ends with defeating Japan, but leaving the Emperor in a position of authority just sounds like a recipe for a rematch only a few decades down the line, not merely the cold war we see here.

Given the end of the novel, I'm hoping that the next book picks up the next day. Or at least has a prologue that covers what happens in the immediate aftermath. There's a lot to clean up from that conclusion-- and it needs to be cleaned up in more ways than one. 

Though at the moment, they cover enough alternate history, etc, that I'd like to run this one up the flagpole for the Dragon Awards in alternate history. But more on that tomorrow.

Anyway, Educated Luck. This one I fully recommend.

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