I never quite thought much about what some reviewers call the “sophomore slump,” a malady that often afflicts the second book in trilogies. Some might say that Jinx’s Magic by Sage Blackwood suffers from it, but I don’t think so.
I like this series. No doubts about that. Yes, it has some of the usual suspects – an orphan with great unknown powers who is in training to be a wizard, an evil wizard, a wizard that we’re not quite so sure about, and various companions. But Jinx is special and defies stereotypes. His magic is rare. And the host of secondary characters is good. It’s a series preteens will undoubtedly enjoy reading and they’ll identify with Jinx (especially when he’s sarcastic).
The first book in the series is Jinx. Jinx is an orphan who is about to be left in the Urwald (a large primeval forest) to die when he is rescued by the wizard Simon. He gradually becomes the Simon’s apprentice and learns that the power he draws on to work his magic is different than that Simon – and other wizards -- use. In the course of the story, Jinx meets two young people (Reven, a would-be king, and Elfwyn, a would-be witch) who are making their way (separately at first) through the Urwald to rid themselves of curses. They end up at the house of an evil wizard who attempts to use them to capture Simon. Simon saves Jinx while Jinx in his way saves Simon. It is a complete book and could be read as a stand-alone novel.
Jinx’s Magic picks up where we left off – with the Jinx, Reven, Elfwyn, and Simon traveling again. The group separates midway and we follow Jinx on his quest to find out more about knowledge and power. Jinx is so very brave and determined. And he’s often a bit confused and overwhelmed too. He’s a genuine teen. I think that’s why I like him so much. By the end of Jinx’s Magic, all of the players are in place for what promises to be a climactic battle between fire and ice, life and death. I’m really looking forward to it.
As I was thinking about the so-called sophomore slump I thought about the granddaddy of trilogies –The Lord of the Rings. After I had read the entire trilogy a couple times, I found myself skipping part of The Two Towers (the second book in the series) whenever I read the trilogy again. I didn’t really care about Shelob and that part of Frodo’s journey. So I wondered today if I could skip parts of Jinx’s Magic and have it not matter. I think not. Jinx’s discoveries about his powers are important and this book isn’t just a placeholder.
I don’t play chess – it’s totally not my game; I’m just not strategic enough – but my sons and ex-husband are aficionados and so I’ve often tripped over chess books. I think we can compare trilogies to chess. There seems to be many chess books written about opening moves. Then there are a bajillion books written on the end game. I haven’t researched it, but I’m guessing there aren’t as many books written about the middle part of the game. The middle part seems to be about getting all your pieces in place for that amazing end game. The middle book of a trilogy often seems to do the same. It carries the story along and gets all the players set for what we hope will be a grand conclusion. Jinx’s Magic does more than that. It moves the story along and introduces important characters and we, along with Jinx, discover much about magic. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.