on March 18th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Martin Banks is just a normal guy who has made an abnormal discovery: he can manipulate reality, thanks to reality being nothing more than a computer program. With every use of this ability, though, Martin finds his little “tweaks” have not escaped notice. Rather than face prosecution, he decides instead to travel back in time to the Middle Ages and pose as a wizard.
What could possibly go wrong?
An American hacker in King Arthur’s court, Martin must now train to become a full-fledged master of his powers, discover the truth behind the ancient wizard Merlin…and not, y’know, die or anything.
I’ve wanted to read Off to Be the Wizard desperately ever since I learned of its existence. So when Amazon offered it for $2, I jumped at the chance. Also because it was Christmas, and Merry Christmas to me.
I was expecting a nerdy and magical read, and that’s exactly what I got. Martin is a computer whiz, who accidentally stumbles upon a random file on his computer; a file that holds all kind of variables of every person in the world. He discovers he can change is height by messing with the variables in the file. He discovers he can add a few thousand dollars to his bank account by messing with the variables in the file. He discovers he can teleport and travel in time by messing with the variables in his file. Most of all, he discovers he can get into serious legal trouble by messing with the variables in the file.
Deciding he’d rather not go to jail, he decides to time travel, and finds himself in Medieval England. With the help of the file, he tries to disguise himself as a wizard. Little does he know he’s not the first person to have messed with the file – there are actually a bunch of them, and they’ve all disguised themselves as wizards. Thanks to the file, they’ve granted themselves magical powers. But, for Martin to become a full-fledged wizard, he has to undergo a few tests and trials in order to prove he’s trustworthy and loyal.
There’s also the matter of entire villages dropping dead.
In general, I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable and amusing read. I loved the nonchalant way in which the beginning was told, of how Martin plays around with the file and just “happens to discover” teleportation. I loved the rest of the wizards and the theory behind this very nerdy type of magic – the wizards are all computer geniuses, which is incredibly geeky, but in a fun way. I especially loved the sense of humour in the book. There were many occasions where I laughed out loud, my favourite moments probably being the “obvious joke” running gag.
Phillip gave Martin instructions on how to properly sand and varnish his staff (Step 1: don’t make the obvious joke).
“Now, hold my staff, and this is very important, do not make the obvious joke.”
“Okay, Martin, you’re wearing a robe and a hat. You’ve got your staff. What’s the first rule of using your staff?”
“Don’t make the obvious joke.”
Safe to say I made the obvious joke on several occasions in my head, and it was hilarious.
However, while it was really entertaining, it also seemed to drag a little around the middle, where the newness wore off and there wasn’t a lot going on. As absurd as it was, I also wasn’t a big fan of the villain’s plan View Spoiler »to use the file to turn regular folks into Lord of the Rings characters by slowly changing their appearances « Hide Spoiler. It was certainly creative, but a bit far-fetched.
Nevertheless, it was still very much worth my time, and very much worth yours.