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The Thirteenth Magician
Patrick Welch
DarkStar Publications, 211 pages

Dee Prutsman
The Thirteenth Magician
Patrick Welch
Patrick Welch earned a B.A. and M.A. in English from Bowling Green State University. While in school he published fiction in such markets as Riverside Quarterly and Analog. After graduating, he concentrated on writing articles for the Toledo market and abandoned short fiction until 1997 when he began to place material in such diverse small market sources as Jackhammer, Eternity (the Brendell series), Titan, Orphic Chronicle and Dark Muse. He works as a full-time free-lance advertising copywriter and part-time musician.

Patrick Welch Website
ISFDB Bibliography
DarkStar Publications

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A review by Jonathan Fesmire

Get ready for a ride into the imagination of fantasy newcomer Patrick Welsh, with his first novel, The Thirteenth Magician. Although it starts in a tavern, a somewhat typical fantasy location, the story immediately shows its uniqueness. Daasek, the protagonist, is there to murder a perverse magician.

Daasek is not the villain, however, but the tortured anti-hero, driven by an external force to go from town to town, killing Horea's few wizards.

The first wizard shown in The Thirteenth Magician is actually Daasek's seventh intended victim, a sorcerer with his own tricks. Due to the magician's cruelty, Daasek's suffers horrible, burn-like wounds all over his body, leaving permanent scars that he must bear for the rest of his life. Daasek moves on, haunted by the magician's words in the aftermath of their encounter.

As the title suggests, Horea has thirteen wizards in all. As the story progresses, we learn that Daasek's mission is to murder all but one. Each wizard represents a separate god or goddess, and provides their patron deity with a portal into Daasek's world. By killing the wizards, Daasek shuts out the very gods.

Though Daasek remembers little of his past, Welch reveals this information to the reader, starting in the second chapter. Daasek comes from a fishing village and a challenging, yet happy life. Then the thirteenth magician came, stole Daasek's soul, and ruined his life.

Welch uses a straightforward style with little frill, making the novel a smooth read. Still, the story is packed with relevant description. I had some very strong images of each character and place, which made Horea, the world of the novel, seem very real. Hints about the history of each city and port also helped ground me in Welch's world. From the great warbacks that swim the seas, the odd birds, and the vicious desert reptiles, Welch describes an interesting place indeed.

The philosophical ending may take readers by surprise. I had to think about it for awhile before coming to understand what Welch probably meant. Rather than risk giving anything away, I'll leave it to other readers to decide for themselves.

If all e-books are of this high quality, then I foresee that area of publishing gaining more acceptance soon. I hope that one day The Thirteenth Magician will also be in print, but don't wait for that day to read it. It's worth getting in electronic format and reading now.

Copyright © 1999 by Jonathan Fesmire

Jonathan Fesmire has travelled to France, Germany, Estonia, Finland, and Ireland. He enjoys speaking French and learning bits of other foreign languages, but most of all, he loves writing, and has sold fiction to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, SpaceWays Weekly, Jackhammer, and others.

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