Reviews for Battle of the linguist mages

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A champion virtual reality gamer gets tangled up in a real-life war between alien-powered magicians. Isobel is the Queen of Sparkle Dungeon. The video game's best diva-caster—a player who uses her actual voice to sling spells—she wields the series' four most powerful artifacts. But when the Queen combines the artifacts' powers, she unwittingly rips a hole in the fabric of the game's spacetime. Still, nothing seems amiss when SparkleCo's ad agency reaches out to ask Isobel to test a new game. She is the Queen, after all, and no one can overtake her in the leaderboards. Working under the cover of a comprehensive nondisclosure agreement, Isobel learns that the ad agency is working on real-life magic: multilayered syllables that manipulate whomever hears them into feeling, thinking, or doing whatever the speaker wishes, thanks to the power of alien punctuation marks. Sparkle Dungeon's best diva-caster turns out to be a natural with these "power morphemes," but she begins to suspect that she isn't working for the good guys after meeting a few of the firm's other clients—including a Scientology-esque church and an "insidious" politician. Then there's her predecessor, Maddy, who left the ad agency after crafting her own set of morphemes and now wants to kidnap Isobel to work as part of her resistance movement. Maddy's explosive entrance cuts the novel's brake lines, pitching readers into a madcap adventure of magic and mayhem. Moore has produced a frenetic romp that makes up for its lack of depth with a whole lot of fun. Although Isobel never entirely comes together as a three-dimensional character, her funk-infused narration does a good job of fleshing out her supporting cast. Glitter-bombed popcorn fiction at its finest. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

In this wild riot of a science fiction novel, Isobel Bailie is the queen of Sparkle Dungeon, the reigning champion of a glittering, rave-themed virtual-reality video-game universe. She’s lost jobs and arguably her ex-girlfriend due to her dedication to Sparkle Dungeon. But her talents at spell casting in the game attract attention from a shadowy organization interested in teaching her “power morphemes,” and the resistance movement led by a teleporting former worker. It’s a twisting story that’s at turns snarky, absurd, and stimulating. Moore’s novel does fall into some awkward exposition and leaps of internal logic that may frustrate some readers, and Isabel’s geeky excitement can overshadow her reaction to real-world consequences of the plot turns. That said, Battle of the Linguist Mages is so fantastically inventive that many video-game fans and sf readers will fall hard for the linguistics-rooted magic and the shimmering adventurous universe of Sparkle Dungeon, not to mention its pop-culture references and fun nods to the quirks of video games and the community of people who love to play them.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A champion virtual reality gamer gets tangled up in a real-life war between alien-powered magicians.Isobel is the Queen of Sparkle Dungeon. The video game's best diva-castera player who uses her actual voice to sling spellsshe wields the series' four most powerful artifacts. But when the Queen combines the artifacts' powers, she unwittingly rips a hole in the fabric of the game's spacetime. Still, nothing seems amiss when SparkleCo's ad agency reaches out to ask Isobel to test a new game. She is the Queen, after all, and no one can overtake her in the leaderboards. Working under the cover of a comprehensive nondisclosure agreement, Isobel learns that the ad agency is working on real-life magic: multilayered syllables that manipulate whomever hears them into feeling, thinking, or doing whatever the speaker wishes, thanks to the power of alien punctuation marks. Sparkle Dungeon's best diva-caster turns out to be a natural with these "power morphemes," but she begins to suspect that she isn't working for the good guys after meeting a few of the firm's other clientsincluding a Scientology-esque church and an "insidious" politician. Then there's her predecessor, Maddy, who left the ad agency after crafting her own set of morphemes and now wants to kidnap Isobel to work as part of her resistance movement. Maddy's explosive entrance cuts the novel's brake lines, pitching readers into a madcap adventure of magic and mayhem. Moore has produced a frenetic romp that makes up for its lack of depth with a whole lot of fun. Although Isobel never entirely comes together as a three-dimensional character, her funk-infused narration does a good job of fleshing out her supporting cast.Glitter-bombed popcorn fiction at its finest. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Moore's first full-length novel (after the novella Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You) is a fantasy set in modern-day Los Angeles, focusing on a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game that's has the potential to overpower and possibly destroy the physical world. Protagonist Isobel Bailie is the Queen of the Sparkle Dungeon, a role honed over years of play. She jumps at the chance to do user-testing for the game's next upgrade—until it turns out that it's Isobel who's being tested, to determine whether she can use her virtual powers to change the real world. It's a nightmare come true once she learns that others have already figured out how to use these powers for evil. Moore's novel ports the immersiveness of MMORPGs into reality through the power of language, while taking potshots at manipulative advertising, politicians who do very little while promising everything, and the titans of Silicon Valley who have more control over most people's lives than anyone likes to think. VERDICT The inventiveness and intensity of Moore's storytelling perfectly blends Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. Readers who enjoy gaming will find the novel accessible and appealing.—Marlene Harris, Reading Reality, LLC, Duluth, GA


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Moore (Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You) takes readers on a roller coaster of weird in this wildly entertaining gonzo adventure. For the past eight years, Isobel Bailie has dominated the leaderboards of Sparkle Dungeon, a popular series of medieval rave-themed VR games. Her expertise and skill, especially with the game’s voice-based spell-casting system, earns her a job with Sparkle Dungeon’s PR firm as a senior marketing specialist. But her real assignment is to master “power morphemes,” a sequence of linguistic units capable of accomplishing a vast array of magical feats. That’s just the tip of an increasingly impossible iceberg, as Isobel learns that a conceptual thunderstorm is poised to destroy reality and winds up caught between a ruthless cabal of powerful people and a group of spell-casting anarchists, each with a conflicting plan to save the world. Moore’s tale, adapted from several of his earlier plays, is audacious, ambitious, and metatextual, packed with such wild concepts as sentient punctuation marks, musical weapons, and multilayered reality. While the story sprawls at times, Moore never loses sight of his characters’ humanity or the underlying sense of adventure and humor. Readers will love it as much for the outlandish ideas as for the narrative complexity and sense of fun. (Jan.)

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