Transgressions (The Engelian Transformations, Book 1)

Rated 4.00/5 based on 6 reviews
An elderly male wizard from a contemporary Earth, whose body has been destroyed by powerful unknown attackers, possesses the soul-less body of a young female half-elf. A new lease on life perhaps, but first he must not only protect his home and a new forbidden love from an invisible spirit monster, but also solve the mystery of who wanted him dead in the first place. More

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Words: 100,310
Language: Australian English
ISBN: 9781301530694
About Phillip Berrie

Phill Berrie lives in Canberra Australia with this wife, two daughters and the rest of his extended family. He is on the downhill run of his first century and has decided he wants to be a writer when he grows up. Phill is an editor as well as a writer and is a great fan of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy and horror).

As of June 2013, Phill Berrie has two published books, both available through Smashwords, but you probably already know that.

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Review by: Faran Silverton on Sep. 28, 2016 :
I was interested to read this novel after enjoying some of Phillip Berrie's other work. The gender-swapping main character, Wamzut, is written sympathetically, and the secondary characters are also well-fleshed out and multi-dimensional.

The worldbuilding is very thorough and vivid, and I was impressed by the author's well-thought out magic system. I particularly enjoyed the action scenes, where Wamzut's abilities as a wizard shone, all as he learnt the capabilities - and limitations - of his new body. The twist at the end definitely left me wanting to read on.

All in all, a very enjoyable read, and I look forward to reading Transitions, the second instalment of this trilogy, when it's published.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Robert James on Feb. 28, 2014 :
This is great fantasy. The environment that this book is set in has many, many layers. So much so that the author could continue to write sequels until he had outdone the prolific JK Rowling's 'Harry Potter' series.

The hero is a dead wizard (male, of course), that chanced upon a lovely female elf warrior's still-alive body, that had had its soul 'eaten' by a soul eating monster. With the help of his lovely assistant, he begins the process of attaching to and getting used to this female body, simultaneously solving the mystery of the soul eating monster - before it gets his soul and the souls of those he cares for.

I really like it when authors provide reasonable, believable explanations for the workings of fantasy. The author pull this off nicely, providing just enough detail to allow the reader accept things, and then move along with the action. There's even a bonus short story at the end of the book for those who, line me, want to enjoy some more of that world.

My only complaint is that I have discovered this author too early. I would rather have discovered him later - when all of these sequels had been written!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Felicity Banks on March 25, 2013 :
I really enjoyed this book, and long to read the next in the series.

Wazmut is a sympathetic and multi-layered character who keeps a male voice and perspective. . . even when being ogled in his rather nice host body. He's heroic enough to be genuinely likeable, but self-serving enough (and mistake-prone enough) to feel like a real person. I really enjoyed the exploration of his experiences as an elderly man in a woman's body - not just the usual cliché of feeling people aren't taking him seriously (while simultaneously taking advantage of his ability to distract young men) but also the way his relationships change with his closest friends.

The magic system of the world has just enough complexity that I can appreciate Wamzut's creative use of the different aspects.

The world is a comfortable fit for any reader of medieval fantasy, but it doesn't feel like a ripoff of Tolkien or CS Lewis, which I appreciate. Given the recent release of The Hobbit movie, the lack of dwarves is particularly welcome.
(review of free book)

Review by: Adam Browne VIII on Feb. 15, 2013 :
The things I don't like about this book are the things I don't like about the genre, so I can't fault the author there.

I dislike castles and taverns and guards who challenge you at every step and holders of some high office or other who do nothing but sleaze and smirk.

But as I say, these are tropes - they're gonna be there, most likely, and if I don't like them, tough.

As for the writing, it's always strong, though as a writer myself, my eyes hiccupped whenever the same word was used more than once in a paragraph, sometimes in a sentence - but possibly that's just a writerly thing - maybe other readers won't even notice.

Anyway. All that notwithstanding, there's some wonderful stuff here. I loved the book whenever it let loose. When Berrie let his imagination go - when he revealed to us his elementals, his air spirits, his sea things like vast membranes blocking the wind - his vision of many alternative worlds in a Golden Void - his ghastly beautiful alien Prometheus -- his touches of Eastern mysticism, recalling, for me at least, David Lindsay's VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS...

I was engaged by Wamzut, the hero. I was charmed by the fact he isn't described by some fancy synonym for 'wizard' - he's a wizard, and that's all there is to it ... though I was disappointed that this simple philosophy wasn't always extended to the rest of the world building. There's a Turkey City Lexicon thing warning SFF writers to call a rabbit a rabbit... Faeries and vampyres and magick - and other such spellings - are apologia and attempts at verisimilitude, in my opinion. (Again, this is a trope, sort of, so I might not be the one to judge.)

So. Four stars. Admittedly, one of the stars is a quasar or pulsar or something, its fusion processes a bit wobbly, to indicate my unfamiliarity with this sort of story. But the other three burn steadily. Philip Berrie has a big imagination. I hope he keeps letting it have his head.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Jane Virgo on Feb. 06, 2013 :
Transgressions is the first book in Phillip Berrie's new Transformations series.

The cover indicates that this is a magical fantasy book. A young woman is being watched by someone as she casts a spell. The main colour is green. The feeling is sensual and menacing.

Transgressions is the story of Wamzut, an elderly male court wizard whose body has been murdered, possessing the body of Attina, a young female half elf whose spirit has been murdered. Wamzut seeks vengeance for his own murder and for Attina’s murder. A psychic monster is still trying to kill him, but who sicked the monster onto him? As he needs to stay alive and avoid calling danger down on his beloved lord and lady, he sets out on a journey to find the answers.

I was expecting this novel to explore gender in some depth. However, the traumatic impact of murder, sex change and age change on the psyche of an elderly gentleman mage are not explored. This lack of exploration is disconcerting as the novel is written in first person and I would expect the main character to feel more angst about such radical changes to core features of his identity.

This lack of exploration is probably because Mr Berrie has taken pains to ensure that this is a high fantasy novel, not an erotic novel, which could be tricky, given the potentially salubrious nature of the subject matter.

I had no difficulty in reading the book through to its end. However, the prose is a little stilted, which made it difficult to identify with Wamzut. His emotions are flat and his relationships with other characters, even his new lover, are dispassionate. Some key experiences were simply described to me and I did not feel I was invited to participate in them.

I would recommend this book to readers of high fantasy, particularly those who are interested in portals to alternative realities. The world is believable with some lovely features and the magic system is well developed.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Tsana Dolichva on Dec. 30, 2012 :
Transgressions is about Wamzut, a wizard who, before the action begins, lost his body and almost died in a magical battle. He was saved as a disembodied soul only due to a magical insurance device he had in place. The story opens with a priestess, Nessa, helping him take possession of a body whose soul has vacated it due to an unrelated magical attack. The new body is not that of an 80 year old man, however, but of a young, half-elven woman.

There is plenty of scope for this to go badly in terms of how it is treated in the text, but Berrie pulls it off without making it creepy. Wamzut, now going by Attina, the name of the woman whose body he's possessing, vows to find and stop the magical creature that killed Attina and commences that quest more or less immediately (after dealing with a few practical matters). Of course, things don't go entirely to plan and so, a more-epic-than-intended journey begins.

As far as the trans aspect goes, Wamzut is still at heart a man and refers to himself as male unless he's specifically referring to his body (and even then he usually says "Attina's body"). He also continues to be attracted to women and, after some (entertaining) urging on Nessa's part, a physical relationship blooms between them. I do think perhaps a bit more time could have been devoted to him angsting about his new genitalia, instead of being skimmed over, but the "how to be a woman" conversation was also skimmed over, underscoring that the focus of the story is on magical events rather than the new gender.

The world building was well thought out. There were lots of small world-fleshing out bits dropped in, which I enjoyed. A particular favourite was the psychic wave that rolls with the sunrise which interferes with some types of magic and jolts magic-wielders awake if they're sleeping.

I found the prose a little stilted at times, but given that it's told in first person by a technically 80 year old man, it is, perhaps, understandable. I got used to the style more quickly than I expected to but I suppose your mileage may vary.

Transgressions is very much a book 1. A lot of goals are introduced which Wamzut begins to world towards but not all are completed. The book did end at a logical break point but I was left wanting to know "but what about...?" It's definitely the first portion of a larger story and I am keen to read the next instalment to find out what happens.

I recommend Transgressions to fantasy fans, particularly those who enjoy stories about travelling between worlds/dimensions. Although I didn't think the trans aspect was handled poorly, I'm not sure I'd recommend it as a trans narrative; it's definitely more a story about magic than gender.

4 / 5 stars

You can read more of my reviews on my blog
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

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