Book Review: Midnight Lamp by Gwyneth Jones

Gollancz
326 pp.

The only bad thing about getting books by Inter-Library Loan is that if you put a loan on a series, it is guaranteed that you will get them all in the wrong order. This is the case with Midnight Lamp, which is the third book in the “Bold as Love” series, but which I have read second after the first book. Fortunately, this is not a major problem in following the plot, since the events of the second book are gone over in outline since the characters are currently recovering from said events.

Our Heroes are hiding out in Mexico after a series of extremely traumatic events that have left Fiorinda and Sage transformed, and in Fiorinda’s case, emotionally unstable. (Okay, truthfully that should be “more emotionally unstable” since she was already unstable to begin with.) As a result of the traumatic events, they are having an extended vacation. They are approached by a guy named Harry Lopez, who wants to make a movie about them. They are not really interested, but are drawn in because the U.S. President Fred Eiffrich needs their help.

Apparently, there is a group of people attempting to work “effective magic.” This group of people are apparently affiliated in part with “the Celts” an organization of pagan fascists who are the primary reason why Our Heroes are vacationing in Mexico. The method of “effective magic” being used involves human sacrifice (I was very strongly reminded of David Brin’s “Thor Meets Captain America” though in this case there are no inhuman entities masquerading as gods, just insane magic users) the situation is escalating and the President is understandably worried about an “It’s a Good Life” scenario (that is to say, an insane magic user doing horrible things with reality just because he/she/it can).

So the trio decide to go to California. Unfortunately, they spend most of the time getting the run around, and occasionally insulted by slightly stupid yet well-meaning Presidents. (Fred sticks his foot in his mouth up to his knee when he fails to catch on to the fact that the Trio are in a relationship with each other.) Then Fiorinda turns up missing, and Sage and Ax have to head out and rescue her before something horrible happens.

While I did like the book, and the continuing interactions between Sage, Fiorinda and Ax, I was not very fond of the “pagans are evil at worst and flaky twits at best,” theme. There were also some attacks concerning Vodou in that they were lumped in with the “pagans” and Satanists that were committing human sacrifice. (While the writer is very fair-minded toward many other religions such as Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, she seems to draw the line at Vodou, and pagan revivalist faiths.)

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