A review of Christopher Nuttall's The Best Laid Plans

Written by / Reviews

Christopher Nuttall's The Best Laid Plans was published by Elsewhen Press as an e-book in February 2015. The paperback edition was published in April 2015.

Information about Christopher Nuttall:

Christopher Nuttall has been planning sci-fi books since he learned to read. Born and raised in Edinburgh, Chris created an alternate history website and eventually graduated to writing full-sized novels. Studying history independently allowed him to develop worlds that hung together and provided a base for storytelling. After graduating from university, Chris started writing full-time. As an indie author, he has published five novels (so far) through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. The Royal Sorceress is his first novel to be professionally published. Chris is currently living in Scotland with his wife, muse, and critic Aisha.

Click here to visit the author's official website.

Click here to visit the author's blog.

Information about The Best Laid Plans:

Elaine and Johan are preparing to leave Golden City, with Daria and the travellers, in order to search for the Witch-King. The Grand Sorceress instructs Inquisitor Cass to help them. But before Elaine can leave she is arrested by two Inquisitors on the orders of the Emperor. When she resists she is hit with a powerful spell that forces her to concentrate all her efforts on protecting her mind from its intrusion. Taken to the palace she finds that the Grand Sorceress has been removed and the Throne has accepted an heir to the Empire. Realising this has to be the work of the Witch-King, Elaine must defeat the spell that is eating away at her defences if she is to escape and destroy him. Meanwhile, Johan, Daria and Cass are trying to find a way to get to Elaine and break her out of the cell in which she is being held.

The Golden City is still widely devastated from the disastrous battle for power that followed the death of the previous Grand Sorcerer. The recent escalating breakdown of social order can only be made worse by the return of an Emperor and the imposition of martial law. The Privy Councillors and Heads of the Great Houses succumb to the power of the new Emperor, as he amasses a huge army. It is up to Elaine and her friends, with some unexpected help, to prevent an all-out war.

The third instalment in the Bookworm series, The Best Laid Plans follows on immediately from the events in The Very Ugly Duckling, with Elaine and Johan joined by other favourite characters as they try to track down the Witch-King.


Christopher Nuttall's The Best Laid Plans is the third novel in the Bookworm fantasy series. It's a well written and worthy sequel to Bookworm and Bookworm II: The Very Ugly Duckling.

I was eager to read this novel, because I enjoyed reading its predecessors. I was positively surprised when I noticed that this novel was even better novel than the previous ones. I was immediately hooked by the story when I began to read it and I couldn't stop reading it, because it was absorbing escapism.

The Best Laid Plans is a well written novel about magic, control, power and family ties in the Golden City. This novel is so entertaining that it will capture the reader's imagination immediately when he/she begins to read the story. It's a successful and compelling combination of traditional epic fantasy, adult fantasy, young adult fantasy and modern fantasy. (Although I mentioned young adult fantasy in the previous sentence, I want to emphasize that this novel has been written for adults, because the author writes a bit about sex and brutality.)

The Bookworm fantasy series is one of the most entertaining fantasy series written for fantasy readers who want to read good escapism. Perhaps the most important reason why this fantasy series is such an entertaining series is that Christopher Nuttall has created an interesting and easily likeable protagonist, Elaine. He writes fluently about Elaine, her problems and her adventures. He has also managed to create an interesting fantasy world with a dark and violent past.

Before I begin to write more about the contents of this novel, I'll mention that The Best Laid Plans is a perfect novel for readers who are looking for a fast-paced, entertaining and fluently written novel that has plenty of magic (it's one of the best novels of its kind). All you need to enjoy and understand this novel is to have an open mind for entertaining fantasy and escapism.

Here's information about the story:

Inquisitor Cass visits The Grand Sorceress, Lady Light Spinner. Lady Light Spinner wants Cass to help Elaine and Johan on their mission... Charity witnesses how Vlad Deferens claims his right as Emperor and sees how Lady Light Spinner is removed from power. The Emperor aims to gain full control of the Golden City and wants everyone to obey him... When the Emperor holds the power in the Golden City, inquisitors come to visit Elaine at the Library and arrest her. They take her away against her will. The Inquisitors take Elaine to the Emperor who wants her to obey him, because he wants to use her knowledge. The Emperor is willing to go as far as make Elaine a mindless slave to be able to use her knowledge...

And here's a bit of information about the characters:

- Elaine is a fascinating character, because she has lots of knowledge - including forbidden spells that are locked in the Black Vault - in her head because of a magical trap that gave her all the knowledge in the Great Library. She knows all kinds of things about magic and how to use magic in many ways. She also knows how much magical knowledge has been buried over the years to keep others from abusing it.

- Johan Conidian is also a fascinating character, because he can take a person's magic away without rituals. Magicians are terrified of him and his powers. He had a difficult childhood, because he was practically being kept a prisoner by his own family until he developed strange magic. Although Johan isn't a child anymore, he's still a bit immarture in many ways. He wants nothing to do with his family anymore.

- Cass is an important character in this novel. Reading about her was interesting, because she had to give up her position as an Inquisitor to be able to help Elaine and Johan. She had to struggle to be an Inquisitor, but now she had to give it up to be able to help others.

- Daria is Elaine's friend and a very outgoing person unlike Elaine, who's a bit shy. She's a bit different kind of a person, because she's a werewolf.

Johan's attraction towards Daria is handled in a good and realistic way. Johan thinks that Daria is sexy and looks beautiful, but he also knows that she's a werewolf.

Christopher Nuttall writes believably about the Conidian Family and what kind changes have occurred since Johan used his powers on his family members. Because things have changed a lot for the Conidian Family, Charity is now in charge of the family and struggles with certain things.

The author describes perfectly how everything changes in the Golden City when the Emperor takes the throne and how magicians react to the changes. The already damaged social order of the Golden City is made much worse by the Emperor. Soldiers appear everywhere and the Emperor begins to use his power to control people and makes them obey him.

The Emperor is a powerful and ruthless man. He intends to control all the magicians and stop them from using their magic against him. He wants to eliminate all threats that could weaken him. He uses dark and forbidden magic to do certain things that shouldn't be done. I won't write any spoilers about the happenings, but I'll mention that it was intriguing for me to read about what the Emperor did to the children who were his hostages (this scene will most likely please many fans of dark fantasy).

The scene in which Elaine meets Vlad Deferens is one of the best scenes in this book. It was enjoyable to read about how Elaine defied Vlad and didn't swear anything, although Vlad wanted him to do so. Elaine chose not to swear loyalty to Vlad, because Vlad would've gained access to all the knowledge in her head and would've used it to his advantage. Elaine is very determined not to let her knowledge fall into wrong hands.

Elaine is sure that the Witch-King is behind everything that has happened in the Golden City. She knows that the Witch-King, who was the hero of the First Necromantic War and the villain of the Second, is extremely dangerous and capable of many evil things. She also knows that nobody knows where his body can be found, because nobody knows its location.

It was great that the author wrote about Charity and how she did what the Emperor asked her to do. It was fascinating to read about what the Emperor did to her and how he controlled her. Because Charity had given her oath to the Emperor, she had to obey him and his commands, no matter what they were or how evil they were.

It was interesting for me to read about how Johan, Daria and Cass helped Elaine. They were quite resourceful and used secrets of the Golden City and the Library to their advantage. They had a lot to do, because the Emperor and the Witch-King were a serious threat to everyone.

One of the most fascinating things about this novel is that the author writes more deeply about the bond between Elaine and Johan. The bond between them is weak, but it works (however, it doesn't work as well as it should, because Johan's magic differs from Elaine's magic). It was enjoyable to read about how the characters discussed the problems with bond and tried to figure things out.

The Leveller movement that many magicians consider to be dangerous to their way of life is an important and essential part of the story. I enjoyed reading about what the Levellers did, because they managed to shock magicians by their actions.

One of the best things about this novel and the whole series is that Christopher Nuttall writes fascinatingly about magic, its possibilities and its limitations. It's nice that he writes about how seductive and dangerous magic can be if used in a wrong way and how terrifying things could be if somebody were to use forbidden knowledge to do bad things. He also writes well about why one has to be exteremely careful when swearing oaths, because it's quite easy to do something lethal or to obey without question if a wrong kind of oath has been sworn.

I found it captivating that the author concentrated on writing about magic in a slightly more theoretical way than before. It added quite a lot of depth to the storyline. Because I've always enjoyed reading about magic, it was fun to read about how Elaine, Cass and Johan used their powers and how they talked about magic.

I have to mention that what happens at the end at the Arena is worth waiting for. I won't go into details about what happens there, but I can mention that it will be of interest to many readers and fans of this fantasy series. It's quite a sight to behold.

It's worth mentioning that the author explores the consequences of bullying in an excellent way in this novel. Because Johan was bullied and tormented a lot before he developed his powers, he had to endure many humiliating and painful moments. This affected him deeply and scarred him for life, because he doesn't feel remorse about what he has done.

It's nice that the author has created an ending that reveals what happens to the characters, but doesn't end the story. According to the end of this novel, the story will conclude in Full Circle. I look forward to reading it, because it'll be fun to find out how the author concludes the story and what happens to the characters.

I have to mention that it was fun to read about Elaine's thoughts about romance books, because I personally agree with everything she thought about them and their quality. The author's descriptions about these books, their quality and their contents were surprisingly accurate and stingingly sharp.

I'm amazed at Christopher Nuttall's ability to write good and easily likeable entertainment, because he seems to be one of the few fantasy authors who are capable of writing fluent escapism that appeals to many readers. I consider him to be one of the best authors of entertaining epic fantasy, because it's easy to like his novels.

It's great that Christopher Nuttall manages to add bits and pieces of depth to the story as the happenings move forward. He doesn't get stuck in any places, but keeps the story flowing all the time. He writes so fluently and entertainingly about the happenings that you can't help but enjoy the story.

The Best Laid Plans is perfect entertainment for readers who have enjoyed reading the previous novels in the Bookworm series. If you've ever read anything by Christopher Nuttall and have liked what you've read, or if you're a newcomer to Christopher Nuttall's novels, please take a look at this novel and its predecessors, because they're wonderful light-hearted escapism with interesting characters.

Good, interesting and fast-paced fantasy entertainment!