It’s time for another round of Beth vs. The Urban Fantasy Genre. Today’s contender is WebMage by Kelly McCullough. Mind, the quote on the cover has it right: Science fantasy is really a better term for it. But Webmage can and does fit into the urban fantasy genre as well. Only there’s a distinctive lack of vampires, werewolves, and love dodecagons. In fact, WebMage is kind of like the illegitimate lovechild of The Dresden Files, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and some computer geek. And I mean that in a good way.
WebMage stars Ravirn (or Ravi, as I will from here on out call him lest I continually mix up the spelling of his name) and his familiar/all purpose WebGoblin Melchior (who, for similar reasons, we will just call Mel). The book starts with a bang and pretty much doesn’t stop, sweeping the reader up in action, humor, and Greek mythology. Only this time, the gods of the ancient world have embraced the modern world far more effectively than I’ve ever seen before. The line between science and magic blurs, with things like hacking and viruses being part or all magical (and that includes the Internet).
That might sound a bit odd, but it works nicely. Kelly McCullough is smart, giving the reader enough detail that they’re not left scratching their heads, but avoiding getting so technical that geeks everywhere would throw down the book in protest. (For true. I had my husband read it. Not only did he not complain about a single scientific thing, he’s now a big fan of Kelly McCullough.)
Ravi might not be the most extremely exciting character ever (who is?) but he’s fun to follow, if occasionally a bit dopey in a very Harry Dresden — i.e, still kind of charming — sort of way. The gods and goddess of ancient Greek are interesting, and the years seem to have made them even meaner than they used to be. For me, the most intriguing characters were the WebGoblins Mel and Shara. In some ways they might seem like glorified laptops, but really, they’re bursting with personality.
The plot has a few twists and turns, though fortunately not too many because WebMage has a pretty breakneck pace most of the time — too many twists and I might’ve careered off into a wall. That, in fact, is one of its downsides for me. The constant action gets a little wearying and I wouldn’t be able to read another McCullough novel right after reading WebMage. My mind simply isn’t up to that much running around.
The other thing that brings the book down a bit is the relationship between Ravi and Cerice. Cerice isn’t really a very interesting character, which doesn’t help matters, but the relationship doesn’t have enough foundation either. Supposedly they’ve known each other for a long time and all that, but this is all shoved off screen and therefore isn’t very convincing. Honestly, Ravi’s relationship with Mel is far better constructed.
Still, WebMage was a lot of fun to read. I definitely recommend it for fans of series like The Dresden Files.
Ravirn (WebMage) — (2006-2010) Author’s website: A fantasy-cyberpunk hybrid that revolves around Ravirn, a grandson of the Greek Fate Lachesis. In order to keep up with an ever increasing number of life threads, the Fates have upgraded to a computerized system that blends magic with programming. Of course where there are computers, there are also hackers. In the process of “testing” his Great-Aunt Atropos’s security, Ravirn, a hacker/sorcerer, and his laptop familiar, Melchior, uncover a plot that could shake the foundations of Olympus and change humanity’s relationship with Fate forever.