Book Review: THE INFUSED MAN (2022)
Christopher G. Nuttall's saga of a "mundane" accidentally infused with magical powers continues
Not long ago, I reviewed British author Christopher G. Nuttall’s novel The Cunning Man, a spinoff of his Schooled In Magic series following a different character. Now it’s time for the next book, The Infused Man. Full disclosure: Chris and I have been reading and reviewing one another’s work and writing guest posts for each other’s blogs for years, he blurbed my most recent book Battle for the Wastelands #2: Serpent Sword, and he gave me copies of these books in exchange for reviews.
Since this is the second book in the series, beware spoilers for the first book…
Things are looking up for Adam of Beneficence, once a non-magical “mundane” on the outside looking in in a fantasy world filled with magic. After defeating an attempt by an evil wizard masquerading as a “mundane” revolutionary to destroy the new Heart’s Eye university, Adam finds his blood infused with magic. He can’t do magic like a wizard can, but it does come in handy with the magic-technology hybrid research he’s been doing.
Oh, and the witch Lilith who once sneered at and occasionally hexed him is now dating him.
But things get awkward when the odious wizard Matthew, who had picked on Adam when they’d served the wizard Master Pittwater in Beneficence, shows up at Heart’s Eye University. And said wizard’s involvement with two princesses fleeing a prince who wants to turn back the clock on political and social change soon brings the university into a war it may not win…
*Much of the book takes place in a university under siege and that’s extremely well-done. The food shortages, the paranoia of spies and traitors, the discussion about whether or not to try to wait out the besiegers or make a sortie, and an attempted sortie are all gripping. I burned through this section pretty quickly trying to see what happened next.
*The combat sequences are particularly interesting. This is a world where until relatively recently medieval-style warfare was the norm, with magic being the glaring exception. Now cannons and rifles are becoming increasingly common, and it was artillery and massed armies of peasants with guns that ended feudalism by allowing for the quick destruction of castles and replacement of expensive knights with quickly-trained infantry. The resulting transitional warfare looks a lot like a strange hybrid of the Napoleonic wars (massed fire of inaccurate guns) and the trenches of World War I, with battle magic supplementing artillery.
*There are some truly mind-bending twists and turns later in the book. Kudos to Nuttall for being able to pull them off.
*Since this is a companion piece to the main series, Nuttall makes sure to include appendices.
*The beginning starts out a little slow. We spend a lot of time on Adam’s feelings toward Matt’s prior mistreatment of him and some personal drama they have in the story’s present day before the war gets going.
*The climax of the book features not just one but two Bond Villain level speeches. Not going into more detail for reasons of spoilers. Although they’re useful for revealing characters’ motivations (and in one case explaining that was definitely needed), they weren’t very subtle, especially the more necessary one.
*There are a number of references to what the main-series protagonist Lady Emily is doing at the same time. I can understand the story logic behind that, especially later on, but sometimes comes off as a bit forced.
An improvement over The Cunning Man. 8.5 out of 10. Looking forward to where this goes next. Here’s Nuttall’s series page for those who want to follow the saga.
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