Reviewed date: 2004 Aug 15
Wizard World is two stories published together: Changeling and its sequel, Madwand. Changeling chronicles the life of Pol Detson, son of the great sorceror Det. After Det's death at the hands of his enemies, Pol is spared but banished to Earth where he will never learn magic. But when a madman threatens to introduce technology to the land, Pol Detson is summoned to defeat the new evil.
Madwand is the story of Pol Detson's investigations into magic and into his father's life and works. Pol attends a meeting of sorcerors where he undergoes an Initiation to unlock his powers of magic.
I hate fantasy. Fantasy means the author can cheat. And in nearly all fantasy, the author does. In Wizard World, the rules of magic are never explained. New magical tricks are pulled out of thin air. Plot developments materialize without explanation. At convenient moments Pol Detson suddenly knows vital pieces of information by intuition--intuition which Zelazny never bothers to explain. One can only guess that Pol's unnatural knowledge is the result of his father's powers of sorcery. But that's just an excuse, not a real explanation. And the rules of magic: there are no real rules. Pol Detson manipulates magic by pulling on colored strings that are visible only with his magical second sight, but that manifestation of magic is not absolute, because you see, other sorcerors perceive magic differently. There are no rules to the world Zelazny has concocted. And thus the plot is unsatisfactory.
I have heard that Zelazny intended Changeling to be an animated film, and wrote it as such. That may explain the simplistic plot and emphasis on action. I did notice that as I was reading it I kept wondering "How would I shoot this scene if I were making a movie?" Madwand is more introspective and philosophical and would be difficult to make into a movie.
The book is well written. Probably the most well written fantasy I've read in a long while. But good writing cannot bring this book above the fundamental lack of logic in the design of Zelazny's world. Wizard World rates only a three out of five.