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    WIZARD'S BANE by Rich Cook

    Baen Books, 1989

    William Irving Zumwalt, known as The Wiz by his fellow computer programmers, lives a standard life. While he's a great programmer, though, he doesn't know the first thing about magic, living in a world of swords and sorcery, or women. The great mage Patrius ends all of that. Dark wizards are growing in strength, threatening to overthrow the humans of the north. Patrius's research tells him that only the greatest wizard from our earth-plane can end the threat. With the help of a beautiful hedge-witch named Moira, Patrius brings Wiz Zumwalt across the planes of existance, at the price of his own life.

    Whatever Patrius believed, Moira can only follow the evidence of her senses. Zumwalt has no more power than the lowest peasant. Still, Patrius has charged her with protecting the Wiz and she resolves to do so. That Patrius cast a glamour on Wiz as his dying act, making Zumwalt follow Moira around like a puppy in heat only makes her charge that much more painful. Wiz Zumwalt can't help the passion he feels for Moira, nor can he help the fact that he lacks the magic powers Moira is looking for and Patrius died for. Nor can he bring much by way of physical power to the battle. Years in front of a keyboard doesn't create a muscular hero. Still, he intends to contribute what he can to the defense of his adopted nation.

    Only when he combines the extremely limited magic available to him, magic that anyone could do, with the mindset he brings from his programming experience, can Zumwalt affect the world in which he lives. Constructing a crude magic compiler is simple enough once Zumwalt grasps the concepts. Still, can a strung-together set of simple magics really suffice against an enemy set to destroy nations? And even if it can, what does it matter if Zumwalt must continue to live a loveless life?

    WIZARD'S BANE combines adventure and magic with a touch of humor. Zumwalt is the classic every-man. Lacking great powers or even fighting skills, he nevertheless uses the talents his earth-training brought him to battle for both his love and his adopted world. Computer programmers will get a grin out of the uses Cook makes of common computer terms. Rich Cook has written a series of sequels to this novel. As is often the case, the first is by far the best.

    Four Stars

    WIZARD'S BANE is available as part of a two-in one volume (together with THE WIZARDRY COMPILED).

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