CodeSpell (Ravirn, Book 3)
by Kelly McCullough
Review by Paul Haggerty
Ace Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441016037
Date: 27 May 2008 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Ravirn, once a child of the houses of the Fates, is now Raven, one of the powers of Chaos. He's a minor power at best, and he's made some very powerful enemies amongst the gods of Olympus. At this point all he wants to do is to enjoy some quality time with his girlfriend, do a bit of surfing, and generally stay away from people who want to kill him. Unfortunately, he's attracted the murderous attentions of Nemesis, assassin of the gods, the lustful attentions of Tsiphone, one of the three Furies, the distrustful attentions of Athena, head of Olympus security, and the enigmatic attentions of Zeus, King of Olympus, who seemingly just wants to have fun. With all this A-team attention focused on him, all he has to do is figure out why everyone is looking at him, keep himself from getting killed, and do what he can to fix Necessity, the goddess-turned-computer that defines all reality, before somebody else manages to grab root access to Necessity's mind and gives the universe a new set of programs.
Like in Webmage and Cybermancy before, Kelly McCullough takes her main character and immediately throws him to the sharks. Codespell is one long adrenalin rush, with a few small pauses for Ravirn to heal from his near-fatal brushes with the movers and shakers of the universe, all while trying to figure out how to survive the next inevitable encounter.
Despite his cleverness, his computer savvy and, most importantly it would seem, his nearly inexhaustible supply of sheer dumb luck, Ravirn just keeps being asked to do the impossible. Of course this time the mess to clean up is partially his fault, as he did cause the damage to Necessity in the first place, though for the most honorable of reasons at the time. Which means that he's more than willing to do what he can. But the real problem Ravirn faces is not just doing what he thinks is the task at hand, although the powers that be are making that nearly impossible in any event, but in figuring out what really is the task, who wants him to complete it, and who doesn't.
Politics takes on a whole new complexion when it's practiced by the immortals of Greek mythology who never eat breakfast without examining the pros and cons of bacon vs. sausages from all angles first.
Over the course of the story, several changes come to Ravirn's life, both for good and for ill. But unfortunately for him, he is marked as being on a path that will either take him high into the upper echelons of power or crush him like a bug. And while his old life as Ravirn may serve him well as a template for what is at his core, he is going to have to come to terms with his new existence as Raven and the powers and responsibilities that go with it.