Tales of MU is a serial fantasy web novel written and published by Alexandra Erin. In other words, it's a story set in a world distantly related to that of Harry Potter, and it's an ongoing thing insofar as the author posts a new chapter about three times a week. The story began in June 2007 and will now soon hit Chapter 400. It's freely accessible to anyone on the Internet. See my footnotes for the link.
The world of the story purports to be similar to our own: There's Magisterius University (MU) with a campus and on-campus housing; there is a city nearby where students like to shop or carouse; there are shops with names eerily reminiscent of Wal-Mart and Burger King. There are well-off students and those who depend on scholarships or student loans; career-oriented students and partiers. There are alcohol and other drugs, there is love and hatred, and there is even more sex than at most real-life universities. There are devices similar to our computers, and there is a kind of Internet.
The big difference, and what makes this a fantasy story rather than a soap opera, is that in the story's world, the roles of magic and science are reversed. That is, magic is commonplace and indeed many of MU's curricula lead toward degrees in applied spellcasting or other wizardry. You could consider MU the magic-oriented equivalent of MIT. At one point we learn the truth about how refrigerators are engineered:
"Of course the light in the refrigerator stays on all the time. It would be harder to install a spell that turns it off when you close the door than to simply have it cast light all the time."
, on the other hand, is considered very outlandish
, it's studied and practiced by weirdo
s in secret cult
s. There are enchanted, self-powering carriage
s, but motorcycle
s are the stuff of TV shows for kids.
Because it's a magical world, there are quite a few species among students that we'd know mainly from D&D and Roleplaying Games: Nymphs, satyrs, orcs, ogres, gnomes, golems, dwarves, mermaids, various animal-people (for want of a more politically correct designation) and one (half-) demon. Humans are the dominant force in the world, but the state and the University struggle with concepts of racism, discrimination and political correctness.
As J.K. Rowling has demonstrated, following a student through secondary education can yield enough drama to easily fill several books. There are any number of ongoing romances, of course. There is much social interaction between the characters. The reader is immersed in all aspects of student life. Some have criticized the fact that the story often moves in less than real time: After two years' worth of chapters, the heroine is still a freshman. But we get to follow lectures about different disciplines of magic, explained in terms that make magic seem entirely logical; we observe swordplay at the mandatory combat course and discover the pros and cons of cafeteria food. There's been a whole chapter devoted to a visit to the library.
Here, "fantastic" signifies that the sex is taking place in a fantasy setting. As in our universe, student life coincides with a time of tremendous libido. Tales of MU doesn't attempt to be "child suitable": Most characters lead healthy sex lives, some of them perhaps excessively. Descriptions of events vary from "implicit" to "rather explicit" to (quite rarely) "pornographic." The author convinces us that non-humans are even hornier than humans, and a few themes on the less conventional side of sex are explored: Homosexuality, of course (both kinds), sadism/masochism and other aspects of BDSM, group sex, gender bending, sex with non-humans and humans rather reminiscent of animals.... The sex scenes in the story allow the author to explore many of the more common varieties of kink, though happily all participants are of legal age.
Variety of events
The foregoing description of the sexual themes in the story may be taken as an invitation for the curious or as a warning to the easily offended, as the case may be. However, the story is not pornographic or even sex-oriented in the sense of merely providing a thin plot line to connect countless sex scenes. The plot bounces around themes of education, interpersonal relationships, cultural and racial issues, and many more. There are many dialogues between characters, sometimes serious and thought-provoking but often campy. Most characters get the opportunities to be witty. We meet a high-ranking university official who dines on, not with, his secretaries. There's a dwarf keg party!
Style and quality
Tales of MU is no deep work of literature. It's light fiction intended to entertain the geeky mindset. People who play or played Dungeons and Dragons will probably enjoy the story, as will those who play World of Warcraft or liked Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. It sets out to be a fantasy college adventure soap, and does well enough as such. Ms. Erin manages the craft of authorship well: Her grammar, diction and spelling are mostly flawless, her character development is credible (and has gotten better as the story progressed) and she manages to capture the reader's interest. There are frequently surprising turns of events, and often a chapter ends on a cliff-hanger to keep the reader eager for the next instalment. As far as I can tell, this is one of the longest running Internet stories, and I enjoy each new chapter as it comes out.
The story is published in a blog site. A comments system is in place. For those who choose to immerse themselves deeply, there is a wiki where readers maintain an encyclopedia of trivia concerning the story.
Aside from Tales of MU, the author produces
- More Tales of MU with a strong emphasis on male homosexual relationships;
- Star Harbor Nights, superhero science fiction;
- Void Dogs, a humorous science fiction spoof;
- Tribe: Fantasy in Miniature, with exactly 333 words per chapter; and
- The 3 Seas, a fantasy adventure tale.
The story is freely available for anyone to read but the author makes a full time job of writing this and other stories, so she tries to encourage readers to donate money.
No, I'm not affiliated with the author in any way, I don't get kickbacks or any other benefits from this review. I'm just a happy reader passing on some information.