Saturday, April 11, 2009

McCullough's Hero with Chaos in His
Eyes Disappoints in CodeSpell

CodeSpell is the third entry in Kelley McCullough’s series about Ravirn/Raven, a 23-year-old hacker descended from the gods and goddesses of the Greek Pantheon. The first book, WebMage, is a unique blend of urban fantasy and cyberpunk fiction, seasoned with Greek myth. The series starts with Ravirn, a mortal descendent of the deities with superhuman powers, and an implausible plot about a magical mweb through which the immortals communicate.

By the second novel, Cybermancy, Ravirn has been banished from the House of the Fates, handmaidens to Necessity. Necessity has become the not-so-artificial computer intelligence that runs the universe. The plot is about how Persephone codes a virus into Necessity, The virus secures Persephone’s permanent release from Hades, where she has been unhappily forced to dwell for the six cold months of the year since time immemorial. The virus also knocks out vast portions of the m[agic]web.

The swirling stuff of Chaos appears in his eyes when Ravirn is transformed into the Raven. He is able to transform himself into a large version of that bird and to travel through chaos with greater mastery. He also is now a lord of his own royal house outside of space and time, rather than scion of the Fates.

CodeSpell picks up the story. Ravirn is tasked with rebooting Necessity, down for the count with the Persephone virus. During the time of the reboot, Ravirn and powers competing to get there first will be able to refashion the Universe, should he or they presume to do so.

A secondary plot is Ravirn’s romance with Cerise, another child of the royal Houses of Fate. A true child of order, Cerise is a crack programmer to Ravirn’s rebellious hacker. She is disturbed by the chaos in Ravirn’s eyes. She returns home to the Fates, to work on security programs in face of threats from the broken mweb. This leaves the field open for Tisiphone, one of the three Furies, who lusts for Ravirn.

Winged Tisiphone is naked with fire where strippers usually strategically place sequins. This is too much like an adolescent’s wet dream to be appealing. No doubt this is McCullough’s target readership, not an old babe like me.

CodeSpell is proof that there can be too much of a good thing. WebMage was unique, one of those unexpected finds that appear serendipitously on a library shelf. Cybermancy was a good effort to wrap up some loose ends at the end of book one. Ravirn’s transformation to a character of comic-book proportions and the increasing incredulous plot twists mean that I may not make it to the end of CodeSpell, Ravirn Book 3. I won’t be reading Mythos, which will be released in May.

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