Title: Tok: Magick Tale
Author: Pablo Reig Mendoza, translated by Jesus Fernandez Pedraza
Publisher: Babelcube, Inc.
Publication date: January 5, 2021
One Sentence Summary: The dragons binding all people together feed on gold, but, when all the gold vanishes, the magicians need Juan to help them find it again.
Tok: Magick Tale is just that: a magick tale. It easily blends so many elements like philosophy, fantasy, history, and religion to create a unique reality. The magic was quite interesting, even if I didn’t fully understand it. The story was fascinating, even if it was less focused on the characters and more on the story, but I still wouldn’t exactly call this plot-driven. It’s more of an inevitable journey and how it unfolds. With dragons, magicians, and a special Bond, Tok: Magick Tale is more than just a fantasy novel and will make the reader think.
It’s difficult to describe this book because it’s not a typical fantasy novel. It would be easy to say it’s about Queen Victoria and a man in her employ called the Munshi working to restore magic’s rightful place in the world. In London, there are three incredible magicians who will play a role in it: one who becomes an extraordinary peacekeeper, one who writes the future, and one who becomes London’s magician. But gold has vanished, and the mystical dragons who bind people together need gold to survive. Juan, a wrestler who unexpectedly loses a guaranteed win, is brought into their fold, trained to become a magician who can help find the gold and finally restore magic to the world.
But that doesn’t really describe all that Tok: Magick Tale is. Reading Tok felt like it was something of a cross between fantasy and a classic. The writing had that classic feel, but the story is most definitely fantasy. It’s quite a short read, but it really packs in the story. Tok: Magick Tale goes back and forth in time with no clear delineations outside of what the story says and which character is telling the story. It can be a bit confusing, but I also found it fairly easy to catch up.
Tok: Magick Tale is centered around Gerard and Juan. As a young man, Gerard came to London and stumbled across Mabel, a young woman with an incredible power, and they formed a close bond. His fate is to remain in London and work his magic of dreaming peace. It is he who draws Juan into the fold. Juan is little more than a professional fighter. He only really knows the fight, but, after his last match was rigged in a way it shouldn’t have been, his life is in danger. Pursued by the Vatican, Gerard and his fellow magicians throughout the world pull him in so he can fulfill his role in helping to bring magic back.
The world within this book was quite amazing. I’m not quite sure I fully understood it, but it seemed that dragons manifest when enough people experience the same thing, thereby manifesting a dragon that helps bind humans together across space. It is this bond that provides the magic that enables people to be closer than ever possible. There are different kinds of magicians. Just as Mabel is able to write down future events, Gerard is able to dream peace and Juan has an affinity for minerals. I may not have fully understood how it worked, but I loved the interconnectedness, how the Bond works, and the unique magic. There are also dragons, and they play quite an interesting role throughout the story.
Tok: Magick Tale effortlessly blends religion, philosophy, fantasy, and history to offer something of an alternate timeline or history. I say that because some of the historical facts seemed a little off. Like Queen Elizabeth I is the daughter of Queen Victoria. Then again, I read the translated version, so there were some misused/misspelled words and possibly some things just didn’t translate well. Still, this was an incredible story that held my attention and kept me thinking the whole time.
This is really a short read, but I wouldn’t call it fast-paced. Indeed, it goes back and forth in time and into the world of the dragons at will, keeping the story relatively slow. It’s sometimes a bit of a dizzying ride, but it definitely caught my imagination and made me think. I loved that it blended so many things together to tell a coherent, almost plausible version of our reality. At the same time, it also felt like little more than a gold hunt under the guise of a war. Still, it was fascinating how the author was able to pull in so many different things to create this relatively short tale.Tok: Magick Tale is absolutely a magick tale. It’s full of magic and dragons and amazing bonds between certain people. The world was fascinating and, while I sometimes wished it gave me slightly less food for thought, I loved how it blended so many different elements. This is definitely not a typical kind of fantasy, but, if you’re interested in something that will make you think, this is one to try.
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Thank you to Pablo Reig Mendoza for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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