Book review: Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer

4/5 stars.

Martin Banks is your average geeky guy with an uneventful, average life, until one day he discovers a mysterious file. A file, it turns out, that is the source code of our world.

Martin carefully starts to experiment with the file, and finds he can teleport by changing the coordinates listed for his position in the file. He also discovers that he has to be very accurate so as not to say put himself in the middle of a wall, or lake or other inconvenient obstacle. So, while the file gives him almost unlimited power, he has to be very careful with how he uses it, or in the words of uncle Ben: With great power comes great responsibility. It’s sort of like the magic genie conundrum – you have to think about all possible consequences of your actions. For instance if you say you want to be very rich, the genie can give you 100 dollars and take away everyone else’s money, thus making you very rich by comparison.

Anyway, Martin discovers that he can indeed increase the balance of his bank account. At first he is modest. He just wants a little extra cash. He’ll keep his job and live his normal life. But he quickly becomes greedy, and draws the attention of some government agents. Turns out they find it kind of iffy if lots of money pops up in someone’s bank account seemingly out of nowhere.

The long and the short of it is that Martin decides to escape to the past, a more primitive time without government agents and technology, a time when magic was respected and revered, a time where he can pretend he is a wizard. With his smartphone loaded with the source code, of course. After some research he chooses England in the Middle Ages. Once he arrives, he quickly discovers that he is not the first person to have discovered the file, and not the first person who has had exactly the same idea of escaping to the Middle Ages.

Thus Martin gets initiated into a society of so-called wizards, learning the tricks and the codes they live by, making friends and the occasional enemy.

It’s a very funny story. Well written too. And littered with geeky pop-culture references, which happens to be my jam. And Scott Meyer definitely gets points for originality. I really enjoyed the concept and all the neat ideas he comes up with.

That being said, while the story was exciting, it didn’t exactly keep me on my toes. I wasn’t terribly invested in what happened, and I had a pretty good idea how it was going to end. But the humour and originality made up for much.

I would consider reading the second book in the series, but I also kind of feel like I may have gotten what I could out of this idea and maybe it’s better to leave well enough alone (based on the reviews the series also seems to go downhill after a few books).

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