‘Thelema: Mystic Will’ is a Misstep in the Right Direction

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Book Review of Thelema: Mystic Will by Marushia Dark

It is perplexing to read a book like Thelema: Mystic Will, which our author Marushia Dark labels as Book Zero – The Fool, which feels both unoriginal and surprisingly refreshing at the same time. It is kind of like ordering a Coke and getting a Dr. Pepper. That first sip is going to take you a moment to process. It might even be enjoyable. Maybe you hadn’t ordered a Dr. Pepper in years and hey, this ain’t half bad! Or, perhaps, you just wanted a damn Coke.

I admit I was guilty in this situation of having judged the book by the cover. I fully expected this to be just one slight step above Underworld fan fiction. I can congratulate the author for having proved me wrong. They introduce the Justices of the Peace, whose purpose is to be a sort of wandering judge, going here and there to provide their services… which, mostly, seems to be kicking the ever-living shit out of those they preside over.

Using magical spells that are drawn from their Thelema, a necklace given to humanity by the gods, these Justices from the very start forced me to change my notions on what I was reading. At first, they all meet up, talk some law, cast a few spells, yeah okay we’re treading water here. But then they summon a giant axe-wielding beaver sporting a flannel shirt. If that last bit hasn’t already gotten you to add the book to your Amazon cart, I’m not sure what will.

These entities our author calls Juristic Persons. Imagine if corporations of our world could arm their mascots and bring them to life. Now, forgive me for having made you imagine Ronald McDonald fighting Cap’n Crunch. No, on second thought, you’re welcome, as that sounds pretty cool. In the book, Juristic Persons are physical manifestations of their businesses. The more money they are worth, the larger and more powerful they become. Humanity treats them like slaves. From the very beginning, our Justices show they’ll use law and rhetoric from some philosophical judge who, with one half-assed logical thought, strips you of your rights.

When found guilty, Juristic Persons are sucked of all their assets, literally drained to miniature doll size (which I imagine would fuel quite the society of LLC Collectors), before being sent to the fiery pits of Bankruptcy Court. This serving as an analogy for government regulation in a not entirely subtle manner, and I’m not sure it works. The author is clearly trying to pull the heart strings and drive home a point with torturous scenes; but I feel it has all been done. It’s the Robot with a Heart storyline, where evil humans create robots to enslave them, and murder those that gain a conscience. It might work for a libertarian audience, whose viewpoints aren’t often represented by mainstream literature, but I had a hard time sympathizing with Blue Ox Shipping LLC.

Let’s return to the Justices.

What an odd sort they are. I started out thinking they were magicians in a familiar medieval world before they casually mention their Go-Go Gadget style cloaks (inflatable pillow in the hood). There is both swordplay and motorcycles. The author inhales plenty of tired tropes from several different genres and exhales something crisp and original. Unfortunately, the characters themselves are where we run into issues.

These are judges. One imagines they must’ve gone through years of schooling, training, and preparation. Not to mention they aren’t the fat cats we all rise for in our world: These judges can kill and do so in style. So why in the world do they talk and act at times like stereotypical high schoolers from the sequel to a slasher flick? Read this exchange, in which two men joke about masturbating in front of a woman. Tell me if it this is how you’d imagine top-of-their-game professionals would act right outside the courthouse in which they were just on trial.

“Um…” he (Hanji) stammered, “Actually, I was going to say, the reason I took so long (In the bathroom) was because, well, you see, Lucy…”

“Wait,” Dean interrupted, “You mean you were jerking off to Lucy Fellman?”

“Ugh!” Jane felt disgusted by the direction this conversation was taking, “Do you guys ever talk about anything besides sex?”

“Sure we do,” said Dean, “When not talking sex, we’re usually going on about beards and woodworking and cigars and other stereotypically manly things like that, which no woman could ever understand. Isn’t that right, Hanji?”

Later in this conversation, Dean continues with his line of reasoning to the point of annoyance.

“No,” Hanji tried to finish, “I mean, I ran into Lucy and well her…”

“Wait,” Dean interrupted again, “You… and Lucy… in the bathroom? Wow, Hanji, you’re my hero!”

This is not an unusual exchange in this book. Most people talk as if they’re in Mean Girls. And that is fine if you have a target audience that enjoys that style. It might not be my cup of tea, but who cares? If someone enjoys it, that’s all that matters. Except, the author will then proceed to go on Ayn Rand style rants which completely conflict with the tone set by other characters. Look at this exchange between two prisoners. Let me know if this sounds like what you think you’d hear in a jail cell.

“It’s not the walls that make a prison,” he explained to Mark, “It’s the perceived loss of freedom. Perception is everything. The same walls that make a castle could also make a prison. There’s nothing inherently special about them, really. They’re both cut from the same stone, topped with the same guards, carrying the same weapons. The only difference is which way the guards are facing. In a castle, they face outward to prevent those on the outside from breaking in, and to protect the king from those who might do him harm. In a prison, the guards face inward to prevent the convicted from breaking out, and to protect those on the outside from future harm caused by those within.”

The judges act like children, and the prisoners like professionals. Truly a fantasy world. There are other things to nitpick, such as how the author tends to italicize literally every other word in dialogue, which gets exhausting. But these are mere pebbles on a mountain.

How was the story over all?

If you’re specifically looking for libertarian-leaning fiction (leaning so much, it almost topples itself), look no further. If you’re going into it knowing what you’re going to get, you will probably enjoy this book and the following series (which, disclaimer, I’ve yet to read). The author is consistent in their philosophy. It also isn’t bad writing. The action is gripping, the details and costume designs are fine. They just lose me with the dialogue and the personalities. In fact, everything about the book, such as the cartoony and often flirtatious dialogue and detailed outfit design, screams to be refashioned into a weekly comic. This story would more than likely thrive in that format.

For the time being, however, while the world has a lot to offer, this specific story’s Juristic Person wouldn’t be so intimidating.

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Sam Claussen

Sam Claussen is a novelist and short story author. His work has been featured in Blackbird Magazine, Ampersand Literary, Sanitarium Magazine, Longshot Island, and as a House Writer for Being Libertarian. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his son, Leland

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