Friday, 28 March 2008

Magic Book Review: Thee Necroholicus Asymptoticus Mordandum, 2008 Edition

In the wake of the clamour surrounding the Harry Potter franchise, many new books of magic spells have been published to cash in on the craze for wizardry and all things thaumaturgical. Thee Necroholicus Asymptoticus Mordandum (NAM) has been printed since the thirteenth century, when scribes of mystics wrote their favourite spells on leaves and bound them together in an attempt to trap a small genie. Since then, the book has been a favourite with serious magic practisers, but the increase in competition has seen the publishers resort to updating the format of the books (which are now printed with ink, rather than the blood of demons) and including many spells just for newcomers to the art.

My first reaction to the 2008 NAM was that it certainly matches its predecessors in aesthetics; nothing says “I’m a hard-arsed warlock, bee-yatch, so don’t mess with me” more than having a large hardback with demon faces poking out of the spine in one’s bookcase. If, for some reason, this doesn’t appeal, the new NAM is also available in paperback with a picture of Jennifer Lopez on the cover.

Many of the spells in the 2008 NAM are much simpler than the ones in previous volumes, including the famous ‘Invisible rabbit’ conjure and several small spells to create various amounts of bran. While these will certainly appeal to the beginner, many of the Mordandum’s existing readers will already be familiar with these basic tricks.

The book has fixes and updates for many of the bugs that were found in past editions, which is certainly a welcome touch. The spell for keeping dry in a rainstorm has been tweaked now, so that anyone using it should no longer find themselves covered in margarine when stepping inside. Also, many of the soul-selling spells will now get you at least 30% more value for your soul, which goes against all the current anima-trading trends.

That’s not to say, however, that there are no bugs in the 2008 NAM. When I tried to conjure a djinn using plasticine and buttons, the creature proceeded to impregnate my cat, despite my following all the directions perfectly. It should also be noted that a huge oversight during publication led to the unforgivable error that two spells – one for raising the dead, the other for making one’s windows clean – were reversed. My neighbours were not too pleased when my attempts to help them with their spring-cleaning resulted in them being attacked by zombies.

But overall Thee Necroholicus Asymptoticus Mordandum, 2008 Edition is a great asset for anyone wanting a cohesive collection of useful magic spells. I’m not sure that I would recommend it to beginners, as some of the latter entries are particularly powerful, and the temptation to try them may be too great for a na├»ve newcomer to resist. The implications of this could be disastrous for mankind. I would recommend a book more suited for beginners, such as Spellcasting for Dummies or Rosie O’Donnell’s My Wiccan Life, which has some great tips for aspiring witches and wizards.

Finally, a warning: At all costs, avoid the upcoming spoken word release of the NAM, as listening to it could turn you into a ham sandwich.

Thee Necroholicus Asymptoticus Mordandum, 2008 Edition, Published by Gandalf and Faber, priced Six Undin Entites and a piece of Scarletite. Paperback available for £9.99.

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