Deep Magic
by Joy Nash, historical/paranormal (2008)
LoveSpell, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-505-52716-5


Deep Magic follows The Grail King. I could not find The Grail King anywhere, however, and Amazon couldn't seem to find a copy for me either. After my shipment of books was delayed for almost two months as I struggled to get a halfway decent answer from Amazon's so-called customer service department on the status of this book, I had to cancel The Grail King from my order or Amazon would never ship the rest of my order.

So here I am, reading Deep Magic when it is better to have read The Grail King first. If the reader hasn't read The Grail King, she will have to make the effort to figure out some things for herself. For example, I get this impression that Deep Magic is the "bad guy" version of the Druid magic while the good guys practice Light Magic. Am I correct? I don't know, as there is no definitive answer that I can find here. Likewise, there are some events that happened between the hero and the heroine here that took place in the previous book. The romance here in this book is already established in the sense that she likes him, he likes her, and it's just a matter of working through all those external conflicts to get to the happily ever after. Therefore, for me who have not read The Grail King, I don't get to see why those two are in love. They already are.

Incidentally, this book is set in the same time frame and setting as Celtic Fire, only this time the focus is on the Druids instead of the Romans. I'm bemused that in Celtic Fire, the author uses things like human sacrifice to drive home how terrible the Celtic Druids are compared to the civilized pacifist Romans, but when it comes to Deep Magic, all of a sudden the Druids are all about Light Magic and holding hands while humping trees in the name of love. No mention of human sacrifices or the use of human heads as war totems at all this time around, heh. I suppose Ms Nash and her editor believe that genteel readers will not be able to read a story where the good guys make it a habit to stuff folks inside a giant human-like cage and set them on fire.

Oh yes, the story. For reasons I don't want to get into because they happened in the previous book that I haven't read, our heroine Gwendolyn practices Deep Magic on the sly, which apparently enables her to turn into a wolf. Not that it will get her out of sticky situations, actually - if you expect her to turn into a wolf to rip out the bad guy's throat, you are sorely mistaken because Gwen is too virtuous to commit such dreadful unfeminine acts of brutality. At any rate, Gwen is, of course, special. Her pristine ovaries are bursting with eggs containing future Magic Babies - all she needs is to find the right man to turn her into a celestial baby-making machine. She is also to inherit her grandfather Cyric's task of doing magic woo-woo to protect the entire village of Avalon and its Druids from the Roman invaders.

When this story opens, she turns into a wolf to spy on the enemy. She stumbles upon the fact that the newest commander in the nearby Roman camp, Titus Strabo, is actually a sorcerer. Fearing for her twin brother Rhys as well as for the entire Avalon, Gwen does the only thing a sensible heroine can do in the time of dire portent: she sneaks off, alone and not letting anyone know where she is, to our hero Marcus Aquila's place. Marcus, the kid of the couple in Celtic Fire, can make magic swords, it seems, so she wants him to make one for her. If he refuses, I don't know what Gwen will do, but that's Gwen for you. She is more feisty than brainy.

At any rate, that's pretty much the story. Marcus creates a sword called Exchalybur to face great evil although it doesn't, to my disappointment, change the hero into He-Man or give him sight beyond sight. The middle portion of this book sags like a hammock trying to hold up under the weight of a pregnant elephant because Gwen is too busy preparing all kinds of reasons to light up like a Christmas martyr while Marcus makes all kinds of pouting faces as he insists that she's his. The bad guy shows up towards the end so that Gwen, for all her declarations on wanting to be the heroine of her people, ends up being the "Oh my god, will she be raped? Will her Eggs of Indomitable Purity be violated by the Vile Sperm of Utter Evil? WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?" damsel-in-distress. As bland as I find Marcus to be here, I am seriously vexed that Gwen doesn't get to expire like the useless martyr that she is trying so hard to be.

Indeed, I suppose it is lucky that destiny has Gwen and Marcus pretty much tied together for the rest of their lives as otherwise Gwen will spend the rest of her life reminding everyone of that time when she sacrificed true love so that she could save her people. Of course, the fact that eugenics favor Marcus - in a non-Nazi way, of course - so that Gwen will pop out future little Daughters of the Light doesn't hurt. Faced by duty and the joyful prospect of breeding magic babies for the rest of her life, Gwen is finally ready to stop being tedious and get down right away to the breeding process so that this story can finally end.

As I've said, I find Marcus bland here, but he's at least reliable, unlike Gwen who is all talk but completely useless when it comes to walking the walk. It's the same problem I have with the heroine of Celtic Fire - Ms Nash seems to operate under the assumption that the best heroines are those who want to save the world and go about doing it in the most incompetent and useless manner possible.

Despite my considerable reservations about the characters, I find the author's prose vastly engaging. The author can tell a story, often with a graceful way with words that suit the atmosphere of this story perfectly. It is just too bad that the characters spend more time here making cow eyes at each other when they are not trying so hard to be sensitive new age emo dipsticks, because the silly characters, especially the heroine, are the only things keeping this book down and holding Ms Nash back.

Rating: 70


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