Author: R. A. MacAvoy
Pages: 240 pages
Rating: 1 of 5 starsThis review is, unfortunately, by the numbers.
What are the book's weaknesses? Unfortunately, the book suffers from a lack of structure, where the established protagonists from Damiano and Damiano's Lute were secondary characters offered with zero development between the last installment and this one. Gaspare stands out as a very bad evolution from his prior self in other chapters of the story.
Back in June of '85, White Dwarf Magazine offered the pronouncement that Raphael would be a Disneyfication of the series. While they probably hadn't read this particular book at the time, they weren't wrong. Many of the ideas of the series were heavily subverted by this installment and Raphael would have been much stronger had it been divorced from the rest of the series.
What was particularly terrible was the Epilogue, which closed out the series perfectly. It was five-star writing tacked on to the end of a very slapdash work and accounts for much of Raphael's one-star rating. If the Epilogue had been tacked on either one of the prior books, on its strength alone, those titles would have been perfect. Even if MacAvoy simply copy-pasted it into each preceding piece.
Sadly, the first 435 pages were not worthy of the last five pages.
What made this ending so strong was the growth of Gaspare and the introduction of his family to the wild mix of history and fantasy. Viewed through a historical lens, many of the defining exploits of Damiano and his friends were mistakenly attributed to historical figures, which was an eye-opening insight into the depth of research and planning by MacAvoy. What should be a crowning achievement was twisted into a mere afterthought.
One mourning star.
You can search for Raphael on Abebooks.