Mystically powered terrorists unleash volatile magic on the world, turning Washington, D.C., into a politically charged fantasyland ripe for human sacrifice.
A trio of suicide attackers with magical abilities bring down a 747 by summoning a dragon to rip it from the sky, using the hundreds of lives lost as a sacrifice to initiate the Change. The country morphs into a new landscape of swords and sorcery. Now computers and other machines are coming to life, and regular people have started to turn into mythical creatures and forgotten deities, creating a chaotic world easily seized by whoever—or whatever—set this shift into motion. Hope appears in the nation’s capital where, along with transforming Democrats into potbellied elves, Republicans into cantankerous dwarves, and Tea Party members into trolls, the Change has granted struggling freelance journalist Steve Rowan the abilities of the Tarot Arcana’s Fool card, making him a powerful, yet unreliable, wizard. Realizing his potential, he is “hired” by the trivia-obsessed sentient computer Barnaby and coupled with the attractive, no-nonsense female Navy SEAL Ace Morningstar to uncover the puppet masters behind the plane crash. Irving (Courier, 2014, etc.), a producer of Emmy Award–winning news television and a journalist well-acquainted with the Beltway, makes good use of clichéd Washington stereotypes by mashing them together with fantasy tropes, breathing new life into political satire. The novel is thick with exposition, often more concerned with the rules of the post-Change world than telling a story with it. With such fantastical imagery as ghostly duels, flying fireballs, and bickering sphinxes, there’s little need to interrupt these flourishes with tedious explanations. Much is repeated and not always accurately, perhaps most egregiously when even simple facts such as the number of lives lost on the plane change dramatically. Like many first books in a genre series, the novel foreshadows a greater enemy behind all this madness while barely hinting at its identity, offering a wonderfully bizarre consolation prize as its denouement.
A clever, humorous fantasy weighed down by exposition.