Friday, August 14, 2015

Review: Master of Formalities by Scott Meyer

Book Cover: Master of Formalities by Scott Meyer Master of Formalities by Scott Meyer
Published July 2015 by 47 North
Source: eGalley ARC from NetGalley

Even when finding oneself engaged in interstellar war, good form must be observed. Our story is set thousands of years after the Terran Exodus, where two powerful, planet-dominating families—the elegant House Jakabitus and the less refined Hahn Empire—have reached a critical point in their generations-long war. Master Hennik, the Hahn ruler’s only son, has been captured, and the disposition of his internment may represent a last and welcome chance for peace.

Enter Wollard, the impeccably distinguished and impossibly correct Master of Formalities for House Jakabitus. When he suggests that Master Hennik be taken in as a ward of the House, certain complications arise. Wollard believes utterly and devotedly in adhering to rules and good etiquette. But how does one inform the ruler of a planet that you are claiming his son as your own—and still create enough goodwill to deescalate an intergalactic war?

My Thoughts

Master of Formalities was a delightful book. It's cataloged as science fiction, but other than that the date is announced at the beginning of every formal meeting (“Know that two thousand, one hundred, and seventy-one conventional years have passed since the Terran Exodus.”) and they must have some very fast space ships to hop from planet to planet almost overnight, there's not a lot of SF here. Rather, it's a humorous, and at times “hysterical” transposition of classic British aristocratic formality into a new setting. Think Downton Abbey in space.

Wollard is the Master of Formalities for House Jakabitus. He's had this job for a long time and is quite proud of the role he plays. But, he's going to be challenged in ways he could never have anticipated. The Master of Formalities makes sure that all public actions—particularly those of the ruler or executive he serves—follow the proper protocols and decorum. But teenaged Master Hennik has been raised to flout protocols and act as obnoxiously as possible. And once he enters the Jakabitus household, Wollard's life will never be the same. And it's funny to watch Wollard's growing dismay as things begin to fall apart.

I highly recommend Master of Formalities. I found it difficult to put the book down, and wound up with some sleepy mornings because I had been reading well past bedtime. I'd welcome additional books set in this universe. Are you listening, Mr. Meyer?

Scott Meyer is the author of the fantasy trilogy, Magic 2.0, and pens the popular Basic Instructions online comic. I'm told that the Magic 2.0 series is humorous, and I can believe it based on my enjoyment of Master of Formalities.


Disclosure: I received a free copy of Master of Formalities from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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