I picked up a copy of Lord Darcy by Randall Garrett a while back as part of my research into a potential future project that would blend the genres of fantasy and mystery. Lord Darcy is just that: alternate historical fiction blended with mystery. It's a world where Richard the Lion-Hearted did not die on the battlefield, but instead went on to build the foundation of the greatest empire the world has ever seen.
Lord Darcy is Chief Special Investigator for the Duke of Normandy and, as such, he's called in to solve particular crimes perpetrated against members of the aristocracy. Much like Holmes had his Watson, Darcy has his O'Lochlainn: Master Sorcerer Sean O'Lochlainn, to be precise. Magic works in a sort of alchemy meets science manner. There are Laws of Magic and symposiums, all regulated by the government to the point where sorcerers must be licensed to practice else face severe penalties. There is also Black Magic, outlawed and dangerous as one might expect. Rest assured Darcy and O'Lochlainn have a tangle or two with practitioners of the dark form of sorcery.
Lord Darcy is a collection of short stories. While some are clever, others are so brief it's hard to immerse oneself in them. There is the novella Too Many Magicians which I found kind of droll--much of it is told through dialog and it quickly wore me down and I really found it confusing at times.
Lord Darcy (the character this time) and others come across as flat, and I think this is the biggest flaw with the entire collection. The characters have histories--Darcy himself is in his 40's (I'm guessing)--but we're never given much of a glimpse into his past or anything about his personal life. It's all about the crimes and the ease at which he sees what no one else can. This unfortunately is the fatal flaw in this book for me. I never cared a whole lot whether the crime was solved or not, the murderer discovered, or the conspirators brought to justice. Sorry, but that's just not good.
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