Kept hidden by the United States government for decades, the Site is a place where magic is real. But that doesn’t mean that everything happening there is sparkly. Soul-sucking policies and layers of stifling bureaucracy threaten to take all the fun out of magic.
Harris, a newbie Conjurer, starts his first day of work at the Site bursting with excitement: he’s been brought on for an extremely big project happening the very next day. In a triumph over its habitual inefficiency, the Site manages to carry out its plan and conjure an actual dragon to be used by the military.
The dragon (Zoth-Avarex, the self-proclaimed greatest dragon in the multiverse) immediately eats the person next to him, snatches a “princess” from the ranks of the Conjuring Department, and flies away to the Space Needle. There he manipulates the media, outwits the Site’s bumbling management, demands sixty-three billion dollars’ worth of treasure (because Smaug was said to have had sixty-two billion in his hoard), threatens to destroy the city—and installs a couple of food trucks.
The “princess” is the twin sister of Harris’s crush Ana, and the fiancée of his new friend Jake. Harris, Ana, and Jake team up with a rule-breaking magician on a quest to send the smart-ass, narcissistic dragon back from whence he came. They’ll need to travel to storied realms in order to find the magical items needed to defeat the dragon. As they quest through red tape and various familiar fantasy elements, Harris will need to somehow make his timidity, inexperience, and idealism work for him. Meanwhile, tension rises as the “princess” has escape plans of her own, and the Site management sends an alternate hero off in a rowboat to visit a surfing Merlin—a mission that ends up a lot more perilous than anyone had anticipated.
While this book skewers the same fantasy genre it gleefully inhabits, it also pokes fun at corporate culture, today’s obsession with wealth and celebrity, and our denial that life is anything more than meets the eye. Hapless Harris, believing in magic all along, learns to apply what he’s picked up between the pages of fantasy literature.
I was sent a digital copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review – Thank you, K.R.R. Lockhaven!
Fresh out of magic school, Harris is nervously starting a new job as a Conjuror at The Site, a place in Washington state where magic was discovered in the 1940s and kept secret from the general public by a magical protective bubble.The Site is described as a kind of cross between the ultimate bureaucracy found in movies such as Office Space and an Area 51 for magic.
The story is told in third person from the perspective of Harris. When Harris first enters The Site, the chaos described reminded me of Will Smith entering the HQ for the first time in the movie, Men in Black. In fact there are many nods to popular movies and fantasy novels throughout the book.
The Conjuring of Zoth Avarex is also full of plenty of tongue in cheek wit. For example, when Harris conjurs a cute sloth-like flying imp called Xop we are told:
It was almost too cute, as if some writer was trying way too hard to create a clichéd adorable animal companion.
The scene having been set, the dragon is conjured and immediately the pace starts to pick up. Zoth-Avarex has a big ego and a snarky attitude:
I’ve got more magic in a scale on my ass than Merlin, Gandalf, Dumbledore, and Tim the Enchanter combined.
Marian, Harris’s manager seems to be the only laid back member of management at The Site, who is not completely obsessed with rule-following and form-filling. She along with nerdy Harris the Conjuror, heroic Jake the firefighter and brave Ana the Caster end up forming a team trying to rescue beautiful Sylvia, Ana’s sister, who the dragon has taken off to Seattle’s Space Needle as his “princess”. He demands as much gold as Smaug had in his lair in The Lord of The Rings as a ransom.
Meanwhile Peter and Chris from the Site are off on another quest, searching for the ring of Broceliande, undertaking challenges and meeting Merlin along the way, and the dragon is courting the media with his ideas on how to improve the politics and societal failings on Earth and particularly in America.
There is a particularly funny alternative ending where the dragon ends up getting voted in as the President of the USA, hoarding gold in the White House and using a game show format to gain a female princess/companion who is of royal blood from Europe.
I would thoroughly recommend this book to fans of humorous light-hearted fantasy who like dragons, quests, found family, magic carpets and adorable animal companions.
About the Author
K.R.R. (Kyle Robert Redundant) Lockhaven used to love writing as a kid. Starting at about ten years old, he wrote about anything from dragons to sentient jellybeans. Somewhere along the line, he lost that love. But now as a firefighter, husband, and father of two sons, he found it again. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find the really good stuff from back then. So this adult-written shit will have to do.
Kyle is a huge proponent of summer camps for burn survivor kids. One dollar from every book he ever sells will go to the Washington State Council of Firefighters Burn Foundation, sponsors of Camp Eyabsut. For more info, or to donate money or time, go to www.campeyabsut.org