System Programmer

The Maiden and The Madman

Young Adult - Fantasy - Epic
231 Pages
Reviewed on 06/22/2019
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Author Biography

Jean-Philippe Janssens(1985) was born and raised in Brussels, Belgium. He has been working as a Software Developer for about a decade.

Reading & writing has been a long time passion for him and he spends a lot of his free time imagining stories, whether for potential books or for role-playing games he runs as a Dungeon Master with his friends.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.J. Simmill for Readers' Favorite

Joshua was ready to move on. He had said his final goodbyes to his loved ones through their dreams and was ready for what came next. He embraced the darkness, and yet something seemed wrong. Surely there was more to eternity than a dark and empty room. Then everything changed. But it was not the afterlife he had anticipated. He, however, was not the only one to be surprised. Having just turned twenty, Catherine, a summoner from the respectable Lippi family, found herself with an unranked soul guardian. While they try to turn the unexpected events to their favor, Joshua is determined to prove that his skills as a computer programmer and software developer are more useful than the magic and knowledge a real soul guardian would have possessed. But their new relationship is not all they have to contend with. The king has an assignment for the youngest member of each summoner house, and it seems that someone is intent on ensuring Catherine will not live to attend.

System Programmer is a fun, gripping, and entertaining fantasy by Jean Philippe Janssens. I really loved Joshua's character, and how he takes everything in his stride with fierce determination, loyalty, and a splash of humor. There were times when things he said or did caused me to laugh out loud. Pairing him with the more serious Catherine made for some interesting scenes along the way, especially since they are both, literally, from two different worlds. The characters' magic was varied, interesting, and clear thought had gone into creating the magical system. This is the first book in The Maiden and the Madman series, and the melding of humor alongside serious events and discovery made it an engrossing read. I found the author's style of writing engaging, fun, and well-paced. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for the next book.

Ruffina Oserio

System Programmer: The Maiden and the Madman by Jean-Philippe Janssens is a fantasy that stands out in its originality, featuring an interesting concept and an unusual adventure. Joshua Lockman, a software programmer, wakes up in a strange room and ends up being summoned into another life, into a world of magic, by Catherine Lippi, who expects him to be her soul’s guardian. It’s a country with technology that isn’t so well developed and, coming from a line of “summoners,” Catherine expected him to be someone with special magical skills, a powerful being to partner with. But she is disappointed because even the name of the one she’s summoned doesn’t intimidate anyone and, what makes matters worse, is that he doesn’t seem to have any clue of why he is here. He doesn’t have any special skills that could help her with war looming ahead, but he is about to do something no other soul guardian has done—he decides to build a computer system inside her head.

The author introduces the premise right off the bat. As the narrative opens, the protagonist summons her soul guardian: “Oh, mighty spirit, I, Catherine Lippi, have summoned you by the rules of the ancient contract to be my soul guardian.” The confusion at the beginning when Catherine encounters Joshua is indicative of the internal conflict of two characters that are getting acquainted with each other. I became very keen to see how the relationship between the two turned out. The writing is good, and although the dialogue seems a bit off at times, especially in the beginning, it also reflects the confusion of two characters meeting for the first time. System Programmer: The Maiden and the Madman presents two interesting characters, an original concept, and a plot that is crafted to excite the imagination of the reader. Jean-Philippe Janssens succeeds in creating a world that readers will want to navigate, characters they will want to know better, and a plot that has its own surprises from the very beginning.

Kim Anisi

Joshua is dead, but in the novel System Programmer by Jean-Philippe Janssens, he finds himself locked in a dark room. When he manages to escape from this room, he finds himself in a rather weird position: he was summoned as a guardian for a female summoner. There are a few problems with this. As a programmer from the modern world, he has no clue how a non-technological world actually works. And his summoner was supposed to summon a powerful ally. Not some common human with apparently useless skills. How is she going to tell that failure to her family who expect her to play an important part in an upcoming mission? Joshua wants to prove his worth and when he finds out that he can manipulate the mind-scape he inhabits in any way he can imagine, he comes up with some ingenious ways to be useful in a world where conflicts are solved with swords and magic – not with technology.

If I had to choose the most unusual book I’ve read so far in 2019, System Programmer by Jean-Philippe Janssens would be my pick. It’s an entertaining and fun read. It’s not a book that one should take too seriously or look too deeply into whether things are really plausible. If you take the characters for what they are (a bit on the goofy side, probably ideal for a teenage audience), you’ll have a lot of fun with the unusual and amusing plot. I got through the story in a few evenings and found it was the ideal book to wind down with at the end of the day, be entertained by a light read and to laugh a few times because the main character is quite funny in his own odd way. The plot is very creative, and I haven’t read anything along those lines before (someone trapped in someone else’s mind, yes, sure – but not like this), so I’d recommend it to people who enjoy something that is different from the usual plot lines.

K.C. Finn

System Programmer: The Maiden and The Madman is a work of young adult fantasy fiction penned by author Jean-Philippe Janssens. In this quirky, offbeat work of fantasy and science fiction blending, summoner Catherine wishes to call forth a powerful being to help her with the dark future ahead. Unfortunately for her, she ends up with the spirit of a deceased computer programmer living in her head instead, who feels just as powerless as she does to really effect change in the world. When he builds a computer inside the space of her mind, however, their personalities and personal development begin to expand, bonding them together to find their true power as summoner and guardian.

This is a very unusual and highly conceptual book that I suspect fans of manga and anime plots will enjoy more than fans of traditional fantasy. The editing is smooth to give a clean, concise read, and the characters find themselves in all sorts of interesting scrapes and problems that are sure to entertain the intended young adult audience. In terms of character development, Catherine and Joshua meet on confusing and disappointing terms, which gives them plenty of room to develop and grow to know one another in a very endearing way. Finding their feet and a way of working together sends some really positive messages about the nature of friendship, which author Jean-Philippe Janssens utilizes to keep readers closely attached to their journey. Overall, System Programmer: The Maiden and The Madman is a conceptually interesting and powerful character-led adventure tale.

Lit Amri

When computer programmer Joshua Lockman dies, he's reincarnated as a soul guardian for Catherine Lippi, a 20-year-old summoner in a medieval but magical realm. Talented and part of a noble family, Catherine is shocked and disappointed that she had summoned a weak and strange spirit. However, Joshua is determined to improve so he can be useful to Catherine in battle by building a computer system inside her head. The kingdom of Cestor is currently at peace but the tension between its neighboring kingdom is dominantly present. Therefore, talented citizens are required to train physically and magically for war. A failed assassination attempt on Catherine's life is also a major concern. Both the young summoner and the soul guardian have to get stronger and figure out the perpetrator. The question is, will they have enough time to be prepared?

System Programmer: The Maiden and The Madman by Jean-Philippe Janssens is a fantasy tale with a premise that has been developed into an impressive storyline through a straightforward narrative. I found the world-building wonderfully imaginative particularly with the way the magic system works; the ranking of soul and body, the different types of energy vessels or vascular system of the people, and so on. The inspiration for the story apparently comes from gaming and perhaps some animes. The plot has a steady pace and has interesting development although few events could unfold faster. The dynamic between Catherine and Joshua is entertaining, an integral part of the story that kept me engaged other than their mission to find the culprit who wants Catherine dead. All in all, this an interesting read from Janssens. Some avid fantasy fans might crave the usual weight of solemnity in terms of its characters or storytelling but I found the story's light approach refreshing. I look forward to its sequel.