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October Double WTF Edition

“But of course,” he said aloud at last.  “The power within the spheres has already been disturbed from the mold.  Either we run the spells to completion or they will explode of their own volition with cataclysmic force.”  (p. 189)

Hardy, Lyndon. (1980). Master of the Five Magics. New York: Ballantine Books.

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Master of the Five Magics (Lyndon Hardy, left) and Alkalize or Die (Dr. Theodore A. Baroody, right)

Master of the Five Magics is arguably one of the earliest examples of the subgenre of fantasy known as “hard fantasy”, in which the principles of logic and rational thought are applied to typical fantasy elements—i.e. magic, elves, dragons and the like.  This is evident in the brief expository descriptions interjected throughout the narrative, frequently with inconsistent dexterity (see the pull quote above for one of the more contrived specimens).  The book also suffers from an overabundance of technical jargon: bartizans and mangonels abound, and to add to the confusion, some of this esoteric vocabulary is not even spelled correctly (e.g. manchicolations for machicolations, p. 6).  Yet in spite of these flaws and the occasional awkward phrasing, this book is an enjoyable read for fantasy aficionados who can appreciate the inner workings of a book’s magic system, and with that caveat I give it a positive recommendation.

How it got published: A pioneer; the first of its kind
Rating: Not bad actually

Reviewed: 10.02.2016
Published: 10.13.2016


In other words, by transmuting our destructive emotional natures and harmonizing our diets and emotions with God, cellular regeneration will outnumber cellular degeneration on a daily or weekly basis.  This equates to a constant physical youthening.  (p. 181, emphasis in original)

Baroody, Theodore A. (1991). Alkalize or Die. Waynesville, NC: Holographic Health Press.

In contrast to 5 Magics, where fantasy borrows from science, in Alkalize or Die, the opposite is true—indeed, some of the statements offered in this book would not seem at all out of place in 5 Magics.  For example, it really is not so much of a bother to combine the pull quote included for Alkalize or Die with that included for 5 Magics like so:  “But of course; the power within the spheres has already been disturbed from the mold; unless we transmute their destructive natures and harmonize them, they will explode of their own volition with cataclysmic force.” —But I digress.

With chapter titles such as “Water: Healing Elixir or Deadly Poison”, “The Unsquelchable Alkaline Healing Systems”, and “Youthening”, it is difficult enough to take this book seriously, but what elevates it to the truly absurd is the book’s core argument: that acidity in the body is, quite literally, the root of all health-related evils, up to and including all forms of cancer (Appendix, Table 1).  The book’s other propositions are a mixed bag; Baroody does touch on some elements that are also found in legitimate medical practice and scholarly inquiry, such as the importance of diet, the influence of antibiotics in the food supply, and the importance of minimizing stress, to name a few.  However, these few cases of almost-legitimate thought (almost, because Baroody always ties them back to the acid-alkaline balance) are outweighed by the majority of the book’s ideas, which are outright ludicrous (see: the “Electromagnetic Plague”, p. 162), and as such, I can only reiterate the books disclaimer:

In no way should this information be considered a substitute for competent health care by the professional of your choice.  In the event you use this information without your doctor’s approval, you are prescribing for yourself, which is your constitutional right.

Image of a cat looking scornfully away from the Alkalize or Die book
Even my cat turns up her nose at this so-called “science”.

How it got published: I haven’t a f*cking clue
Rating: Quite terrible

Reviewed: 10.03.2016
Published: 10.13.2016


This month features two books due to the cancellation of the September review.  This month’s review also introduces the Rating feature.

Published inFantasyFictionNonfiction

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