Magnus Opum by Jonathan Gould is a exciting new release and I’m delighted to welcome Jonathan Gould to the blog to share an excerpt! I’ve previously reviewed and absolutely adored Doodling and Flidderbugs, Jonathan’s earlier titles, so I’m thrilled that Magnus Opum is out and a review will be with you shortly!
Magnus Mandalora never thought he would leave the safe confines of the small homely village of Lower Kertoob. He certainly never expected to end up in the middle of a long-running war between the saintly Cherines and the beastly Glurgs. But when circumstance places him in such a dubious position, he finds himself on a rollicking adventure where nothing is quite as it seems.
Magnus Opum is an epic fantasy with a twist. Tolkien meets Dr Seuss.
Excerpt: The Grompets
Far, far over the Mounji Mountains, past the shores of Lake Kroulchip where the boulcher fish bellow, across the misty, musty Plains of Plartoosis, and beyond the depths of the dingy, dungy Drungledum Valley, lies the small homely village of Lower Kertoob.
If you happened to be passing on a bright Tuesday afternoon, as spring slowly drifted into summer, you might have seen Magnus Mandalora with his borse, out ploughing in his pflugberry field.
A borse, as you would well know, was the primary beast of burden used by the Kertoobis, the small and homely race who inhabited Lower Kertoob. It looked a little like a cow and a little like a pig and not an awful lot like a horse at all. However, the most striking thing you would notice, if you should happen to see a borse for the first time, was that the two legs on the left were substantially shorter than the two legs on the right.
This meant that a borse was not the most practical sort of animal to use to pull a plough, displaying an annoying tendency to reel off to the left at the slightest notice. Though there were a number of far more suitable creatures, such as the powerful jingloo, the extraordinarily endurable truffelong, and the seldom seen but much discussed diperagoff, the Kertoobis had never considered any of them as alternatives. They were determined to stick to their borses, even if it meant that ploughing a field was a constant battle to keep the wayward beasts going in anything resembling a straight line. That was just the way things were done in Lower Kertoob, and once you got used to it, it really wasn’t such a difficult thing to manage.
Unless you happened to be Magnus Mandalora on that particular Tuesday afternoon.
Around the field Magnus staggered. Around and around in ever slower circles. Any attempts at keeping his borse on the straight and narrow had been well and truly abandoned. So what was going on here? Why was Magnus incapable of performing a task that most Kertoobis had mastered by the time they were teenagers? Could it be intentional? Was he perhaps the temperamental artistic type, unwilling to limit himself to straight furrows and seeking a more creative way to decorate his field? Or was there a simpler explanation? Could it be that, when it came down to it, Magnus was just no good at ploughing?
The answer to all of these questions was no. Magnus was in fact an expert plougher, highly regarded throughout Lower Kertoob for the straightness of his furrows. However, there was a very good reason why on this day Magnus’s course was marked instead by a single spiral, making gradually for the centre of the field. There were things on Magnus’s mind. Strange, shocking things that prevented him from concentrating on the job he was supposed to be doing, leaving him instead stumbling aimlessly forward like a sleepwalker as his borse dragged him around and around the field.
Suddenly, the plough collided with a large rock, stopping the progress of the borse with a jerk. The shock seemed to rouse Magnus from his trance, and he looked around, blinking in disbelief. He was standing in the middle of a wide brown field, surrounded by ever decreasing circular furrows. This would not do. Everybody knew that pflugberries would never thrive if planted in spirals. He would have to start the ploughing again from the beginning, but not today. Not while last night’s news was still so fresh in his mind. There was only one logical course of action to take now. It was time to eat.
Magnus found a nice piece of sloping ground on which to tether his borse – there was no point tethering a borse on flat ground, as it was liable to tip over – and then wandered off to look for some food.
The village of Lower Kertoob was, as the name suggested, built at the bottom of a shady green hill. When the Kertoobis first arrived there many years ago, there had been talk of establishing another village at the top of the hill, to be called, of course, Upper Kertoob. There were even plans to found a series of In-the-middle Kertoobs on the slopes of the hill as well. As it turned out, life in Lower Kertoob was so idyllic that nobody ever got around to actually making a start on any of these other Kertoobs. Still, the intention was not forgotten, and to that day, the hill was always referred to by the inhabitants below as Upper Kertoob.
Passing under the flanks of Upper Kertoob, Magnus soon found himself in the centre of the village. On the main street of Lower Kertoob, there were no permanent shops. Instead, the road was lined with a series of small, temporary food stalls, each one selling the same item: pflugberry pies.
Magnus paused for a moment, scanning the colourful stalls and trying to decide which one to buy from. Klinkor Grepula had a stall, and his pies were always especially fruity, but Magnus had bought a pie from him three days ago. Gretla Pazuko also had a stall, and her pies had that crust that melted in your mouth, but Magnus had purchased two pies from her in the last four weeks. He noticed that Osllo Yakuli had just finished setting up a stall right in front of him. Osllo’s pies were a bit dry, and the crust was usually somewhat flaky. Then again, Magnus hadn’t bought a pie from Osllo in nearly a month. It was definitely his turn.
Magnus walked up to Osllo’s stand.
“Afternoon Magnus,” said Osllo quietly. “What will you have?”
This was a blatantly unnecessary question as there was only one item on the menu, but the Kertoobis being a polite race, it was one that was always asked.
“Pflugberry pie, thank you,” replied Magnus, also speaking softly. He knew why Osllo was peering at him intently as he carefully wrapped the pie. He also knew why all the other Kertoobis had stopped what they were doing to stare at him as soon as he appeared. He wasn’t going to be the one to mention it first.
Finally, Osllo’s curiosity got the better of him.
“Is it true?” he asked in a hushed tone.
“Is what true?” replied Magnus evasively.
“It’s all around the village,” said Grilda Ivandoo, who had snuck up behind Magnus without him noticing.
“Everyone’s saying it,” added Flybus Bassoni, who was every bit as good at sneaking as Grilda.
“Everybody’s saying what?” said Magnus testily, knowing full well what everybody was saying.
“They’re saying…” Osllo paused for a moment, reluctant to say the words. “They’re saying Jangos has got the Grompets.”
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