After finishing The Grand Sophy, I was in the mood for more Regency novels, but didn’t have the energy for something new (between dreading the upcoming move back into school, moving, fretting about the mold on my stuff that had been in “climate controlled” storage, and being just plain tired). Patricia C. Wrede’s Mairelon the Magician and Magician’s Ward were just the thing.
These are set in the same Regency-London-with-magic as her charming Sorcery and Cecelia, co-written with Caroline Stevermer (a notoriously difficult to find book; if you find a copy cheap, grab it, because someone will want it, even if you don’t.). In Mairelon, the title character is a real magician pretending to be a fake one. He was framed for a theft from the Royal College of Wizards, and he’s trying to track down the items—with the help of Kim, a thief he caught breaking into his wagon and enlisted in the charade. A lot of other people also want to find the missing items, generating a number of absurd encounters where imposter upon thief upon eavesdropper upon plain old homicidal maniac all turn up and chase after a big silver platter. Oh, and did I mention that there are an unknown number of forgeries floating around as well?
This is a very silly and enjoyable book, and though I couldn’t quite keep track of everyone on the first time ’round, at the end there’s a “the detective solves the mystery and gives a speech to the parties explaining it all,” so fear not. At the end, Kim learns she has an aptitude for magic, and agrees to shed her boy’s disguise and become Mairelon’s ward and apprentice.
The sequel, Magician’s Ward, is both a more straightfoward story and a more typical Regency plot. A number of elements will be familiar to Heyer readers: the heroine with an unusual background being introduced to Society; the horrible straight-laced female relative to whom propriety is everything; and even a monkey (what is it about Regencies and monkeys?). Kim gets to manage all this while trying to help Mairelon figure out why someone keeps trying to break into his library, and how it’s connected to a mysterious attack on Mairelon . . .
These are both highly entertaining, with strong main characters, interesting details about the world and the magical system, and wit and charm. Heyer fans could do worse than to pick them up. (Mairelon is to be reprinted soon, but the books stand alone fairly well.)