Dark Lady’s Chosen

It seems nothing comes easy to King Martris and Queen Kiara of Margolan.  Reclaiming the throne seems to have only brought more problems, along with the poverty and famine the country is experiencing after Jared’s abuses.  Tris has to go to war against the man who would put Jared’s bastard on the throne, leaving Kiara pregnant and vulnerable at Shekerishet.  Jonmarc and Carina are facing their own problems in Principality and as Lord of Dark Haven, Jonmarc has to deal with the Blood Council of the Vayash Mor, not all of who want a mortal as the Lord of a sanctuary for non humans.  With the Legacy Arantola left with the shredding of the Flow, it seems everything is against them.  Yet they must succeed or everything is lost.

Dark Lady’s Chosen is the final book in the Chronicles of the Necromancer, and is a wonderful  conclusion to this series.  All the plot threads that had been woven throughout the three previous books, come together with enough flair and drama to make a
great end to the story.

By this stage I loved all the ‘good’ characters, both major and minor and cared a great deal about what happened to them.  The progression that Tris, Kiara, Jonmarc and Carina went through made it feel like I’d grown along with them.  Even though they were all in different places, with several major events happening to them, it didn’t feel disjointed or awkward.  Each part flowed naturally from one to the next while the tension increased each time.. The pace was well calculated and I didn’t feel it dragged at all, even during the quieter moments.  The action scenes were both imaginative and visceral, and I liked that the characters were not spared from injury.  Almost the opposite in fact, which made it believeable, and at times had me wincing.

I think it’s a testament to Martin’s writing that I couldn’t predict how it would turn out, I just hoped.  The ending though was excellent and I put the book down with a good and satisfied feeling of having enjoyed a good story.

I’m extremely happy that Gail Z. Martin is not yet done with this world and that I will meet up with some of the beloved characters again, in the first book of the next series – The Sworn.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Gail Z. Martin
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The Blood King

Time is fast running out for Prince Martris Drayke, with the Hawthorn Moon scant months away and still so much to learn about his power.  If he and his friends are to save Margolan and the Winter Kingdoms, and prevent his brother Jared and the Evil Sorcerer Arantola from raising of the Obsidian King they have to push themselves to their absolute limits.  Maybe even at the cost of their own lives.

The Blood King is the second book in the Chronicles of the Necromancer and is a worthy successor to The Summoner.  This book felt as if it was set at a slightly slower pace which I found interesting since there was actually a lot more urgency to the story.  Perhaps with the group of characters splitting off to do their own tasks for the coming battle, this was inevitable but the transitions moving from one group to another were very smooth and didn’t detract at all from the story.

The plot was as interesting as the first novel, in particular the lengths Tris and the others have to go to and through, to set things in motion in the time they have left.  Their fear, vulnerability, love and compassion are really well written and at no time did I feel they were over powered and guaranteed success without effort.  I still love Tris and Kiara but Carina and Vahanian have become a close second.  The darker parts of the book were quite harrowing, in particular when spirits come to Tris looking for peace and you find the true extent of Jared’s insanity and depravity.

The only negative thing I have to say is Martin has a tendency to over use a few key phrases but they do play their own small part in the story, so it is a minor complaint.

I was a bit surprised by the conclusion to this book but am looking forwards to finding out what happens in the third book in this series.

Quality fantasy once again from Gail Z. Martin.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Gail Z. Martin
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

The Summoner

As second son to the King of Margolan, Prince Martris Drayke never expected, nor wanted to be, in line for the Throne.  After witnessing his cruel and vicious older brother take over the Kingdom in a night of bloody violence, he is forced to flee or be killed along with everyone that had been loyal to his father.   With few options, Tris and his closest friends set out on a journey to find allies, avenge their dead and come to terms that their world has now changed forever.  Their best chance is Tris himself, able to see and speak to ghosts, he is the untrained heir of his Grandmother, a Summoner of great power who could work with the living and the dead.  He must find a way to unlock his potential and become the one thing King Jared and Arontala, his twisted sorceror, fear most.  The Summoner.

I’d been looking for a good, epic fantasy to sink my teeth into again lately, and happened to notice The Sworn by Gail Z. Martin in a prominent place in the bookstore.  I liked the premise, but realised it was the start of a second series.  Since I like to start from the beginning, I went looking and found book one of the Chronicles of the Necromancer – The Summoner.

I had no expectations, I’d never read Gail Z. Martin’s work before, but I have to say I found it compelling right from the very first page.  The characters are really well rounded and expertly written, and I grew to like and then love them very quickly.  Of course when the author is not afraid to write about the darker side of life, this can create a slight pang to the heart!

The story was excellent and I must admit, I do love quests and being on the journey with the characters, joining them to do whatever they must, to see their world safe.  There is of course a danger of many tropes and cliches with this type of fantasy and some of them are unavoidable.  Where Martin excels, is when she takes some of them and uses them to further the story, turning them into a positive thing instead of letting it become ‘yet another epic quest fantasy’.  Instead she created an engaging and intriguing tale that kept me gripped right to the last page.

The pace of the story is good, the writing very smooth, easy to read and I couldn’t put it down.  By the end I was so absorbed and wanting more, I immediately ordered the rest of the series.

An astonishingly good read that does much to revitalise the genre.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Gail Z. Martin
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Shadow Prowler

With a few notable exceptions, I haven’t read much fantasy for a while.  I was actually starting to wonder if I had lost my love for the genre as nothing seemed to peak my interest in the way it used to.  Simon and Schuster UK kindly sent me an advance review copy of a book they strongly believed in and aside from the fact it was originally written in russian and translated into english, it looked like just the kind of formulaic fantasy that had me so out of sorts.

Shadow Harold, master thief and appropriator of coveted items is happy to let the world go on around him.  The world however has different ideas.  The Nameless One is stirring after centuries of peace, calling an immense army of dreadful creatures to his side.  His goal is to strike at the heart of Siala, the great city of Avendoom. Harold’s unique talents are needed to gain access to the one thing that can save Siala and while it’s a mission of great urgency and danger, once commissioned, Harold is oath bound to see it through.  Even at the cost of his own life.

Having just finished Shadow Prowler, I am quite astonished.  It reminded me of the old favourites that I still have and re-read, of a few authors I love that are a cut above the rest and most importantly, why I fell in love with fantasy in the first place.

Right from the first few pages, I liked the main character Harold.  He’s an intelligent and witty reluctant hero, with a knack for getting out of a tight spot. Getting used to a new author’s ‘voice’ can be tough and Harold is what made it a smooth transition and kept me reading until I was caught up in the story.

The world Pehov has built for this series is rich in detail and character and I love the way he has turned around what I would say are usually standard facets of a fantasy book and used them to his own end.

As the story progressed and new characters were introduced, I found them just as well rounded and interesting as Harold, even those that that were only present for a brief time.  A few even tugged at my heart though their time in the book was short.

The pace was really good, no sudden stop/starts or breakneck rush but a smooth movement through the excellent storyline firing up with some great action scenes and then returning to that flow when it was time.

Magic is present, used in daily life and there are different forms of it, used by different races.  I found that interesting and thought it also showed just how much enthusiasm and work Alexey Pehov put into the world he created.

I have to touch on the translation from Russian by Andrew Bromfield.  I think it has been so skillfully done that I wouldn’t have been able to tell that it wasn’t first written in English.  I would love to know how the two versions compare and have to wonder if it was even more enjoyable in its native tongue.

I enjoyed this book a huge amount and can’t wait to read the second in the series to find out how Harold and his companions are faring!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Alexey Pehov
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)