My rating: 3 of 5 stars
i found this the least attractive of the Deptford Trilogy books, which is a pity as i’d expected it to be the most intriguing. i mean, mistreated boy kidnapped by circus and mistreated in further, horrible ways, grows up to be the most renowned magician of his time? how could that setup not be the best of the best, sir, with honor? but i found Magnus Eisengrim’s story to be less about how one builds oneself up from such a shit beginning to greatness, and more about the pettiness of theater people.
it’s also hard to feel warm and fuzzy about Magnus–one can admire his accomplishments, but not him. he’s just not that approachable. in fact, you get the feeling that he’d as soon push you gently off a train than sign an autograph, you know?
we get more of Liesl here, although she’s largely disposed of in a chapter that feels tacked-on. and Ramsay is back–he always improves the scenery.
this book felt like it wasn’t really sure where it was going, then realized it had to answer the question of Who Killed Boy Staunton, wrapped that up and decided to chuck it all for an evening at the bar. Fifth Business is by far the best of this trilogy, although Davies’ use of language throughout is a marvel. but the story in this book never really gels.