The SatNav of Doom by Will Macmillan Jones (The Banned Underground: Book 5)

7/10 I did snigger at some parts.

The Banned Underground – a rock band led by the jazz-loving saxophonist and troll, Fungus – are back and on tour. Meanwhile, The Grey Mage is once again trying to get his hands on the dwarf treasure The Amulet of Kings (the main focus of the first Banned Underground story which I reviewed) but is thwarted in his efforts, largely due to the incompetence of his dark wizard underlings; Ned, Bill and Ben.

Elsewhere, a board of merchant bankers, the Edern, who operate out of an enchanted Fairy Hill in North Wales, have come together to solve Britain’s financial crisis. Apparently the old method of reading chicken entrails is no longer suitable (vegetarian Prime Minister) and the cab driver who gave the British government betting tips is retiring, so a more technical solution is required, which consists of using the Prescient Predictive function of a sentient SatNav to chart the future of financial markets. This method, the Determination of the Operation of Oscillations in the Macroeconomy, is the SatNav of Doom. However not all of the Edern like the idea of government policy being handed over to a machine, as their own input would become obsolete. Therefore the Grey Mage, who has been contacted by one of the board members to sabotage the prototype, now has a new mission for his hapless subordinates – to go to North Wales and hack the SatNav of Doom by uploading a virus so its results get sent to him.

The Banned Underground are playing at the Fairy Hill, so disguised as members of the band’s security, Ned, Bill and Ben have to try and sneak in whilst the band are playing and find out where the prototype is. Of course, it is never as easy as it sounds, especially when a taxi full of the dwarf Lord’s guards are hunting them down.

The main issue I had with the first book was the language, with endless punning conversations that meandered off the point and although I would say that is still an issue with Macmillan Jones, he seems to have pulled back a little bit for this one. However, I still think that there are too many characters flitting around and in trying to summarise the plot I had to go back and re-read parts to actually work out what was going on. There are four groups who eventually converge on Fairy Hill – the Edern, the Grey Mage’s men, the Banned Underground and the dwarves hunting Ned, Bill and Ben and although there is a plot bringing them together, I think it could have been more skilfully managed so they interact with one another to a greater extent. I’m thinking along the lines of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels where the comedic element comes from different groups unwittingly affecting one another with their actions, which is used to a slight degree here but I think more comedy could have been generated. The dwarf guards for example don’t really have much to do with the story and unfortunately the delightfully funny witch Grizelda, who is my favourite character from the first novel, only makes an occasional and brief appearance.

At just over 100 pages in length it only takes a few hours at most to read, and I did snigger at some parts, but a move further away from the endless punning and joking would benefit future instalments and give a stronger focus to the plot.

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Will Macmillan Jones's The Banned Underground series

The Banned Underground: The Amulet of Kings

The Banned Underground: Book 1

The Mystic Accountants

The Banned Underground: Book 2

The SatNav of Doom

The Banned Underground: Book 5

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