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The Death of the Necromancer by [Wells, Martha]
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The Death of the Necromancer Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Length: 544 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Language: English

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Product description

Product Description

First published in hardcover by Avon Eos in 1998, and was a nominee for the 1998 Nebula Award.

Nicholas Valiarde is a passionate, embittered nobleman with an enigmatic past. Consumed by thoughts of vengeance, he is consoled only by thoughts of the beautiful, dangerous Madeline. He is also the greatest thief in all of Ile-Rien. Under cover of darkness on the streets of the gaslit city, he assumes the guise of a master criminal, stealing jewels from wealthy nobles to finance his quest for vengeance: the murder of Count Montesq. Montesq orchestrated the wrongful execution of Nicholas's beloved godfather Edouard on false charges of necromancy, the art of divination through communion with spirits of the dead, a practice long outlawed in the kingdom of Ile-Rien.

But now Nicholas's murderous mission is being interrupted by a series of eerie, unexplainable, fatal events. Someone with tremendous magical powers is opposing him, and traces of a necromantic power that hasn't been used for centuries appear. And when a spiritualist unwittingly leads Nicholas to a decrepit old house, the truly monstrous nature of his peril finally emerges.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1814 KB
  • Print Length: 544 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Martha Wells (11 November 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #235,358 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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By Samrosie TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 April 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Great characters
A marvellous plot
A greatly underrated author
Prequel to the series The Fall of Il Reine ( and why they're not on Amazon I don't know :thank god I have the hardcovers)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars 89 reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Great setting, pleasantly surprising, and characters were mostly good. 13 May 2015
By Brian J. - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really wanted to give this book four stars, but I found the main protagonist to be the most boring character in the story. Other minor characters seemed to only exist as plot devices, rather than in and of themselves, but overall the core crew was fun.

As I read, I expected the plot to be predictable, but was pleasantly surprised several times when it took a turn I had not expected.

The dialog was well enough, and mostly developed the plot, if not the characters. There were times I had to roll my eyes, though. The "clever quips" between our protagonist and his romantic interest make them seem a little too smug at times. That being said, It feels like the book could have stopped for a short while and indulged us with a little more romance. It may have taken away from the pace, but I feel like it would have added more tension later on.

I really enjoyed the setting. That's probably where this book really shines. Wells took high fantasy and moved it into something akin to middle-class Victorian France. It's a world with guns and explosives, primitive science, as well as swords and sorcery. I would be interested in seeing more stories set in this world. Again, if the main character had been a little more than somebody who can dress up in disguises and be motivated by revenge—if he had more depth—I would have given this book a 4.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Story with Compelling Characters 13 March 2013
By Skuldren - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Death of the Necromancer is a tale of revenge, magic and thievery set in a fantastical version of the Victorian era. The story stars Nicholas Valiarde, a somewhat honorable criminal mastermind who has a vendetta with a local noble who wronged, and possibly murdered, his father. Nicholas' co-conspirator in this adventure is Madeline, a washed out sorceress-turned-actress who uses her talent for disguises to help him along. Yet Nicholas' scheme for vengeance turns sour when he crosses paths with a powerful necromancer. As things delve into the dark arts of forbidden magics, the characters must strive to outsmart their opponents by any means necessary.

I have to say, Martha Wells really has a knack for creating colorful characters. In this story, the main protagonist is a rather gray character. Nicholas isn't some noble do-gooder, a simple detective, or a talented magician. Rather, he's a thief. Of course he's a very good thief. At this point in his life, Nicholas has amassed a little criminal empire of informants and skilled tradesman who can help him break into almost any building or uncover nearly any piece of valuable information. His lover and co-conspirator in crime is Madeline, who plays a sizable role in the story. Now since Nicholas has no magical abilities whatsoever, you might expect Madeline to be some overpowered sorceress who balances him out. But the story avoids such predictability. Madeline did have a talent for magic, but instead of pursuing it, she decided to be an actress. Thus she can't perform any handy spells, yet she can whip up a nice disguise or infiltrate enemy territory.

Still, the main characters do get some help from the magically inclined. You also couldn't ask for a better example of how Martha adds flavor to her characters. Nicholas and Madeline's magical ally is one of the most powerful sorcerers in the least when he's sober. Arisilde is indeed powerful, but for reasons the book will explain, he's also a helpless opium addict whose gone a bit mad and has a hard time remember things or keeping focus. When he has his wits, he's unstoppable. Unfortunately for him, that's a rare occurrence. As a reader, I thought it was great. It balances the story out while adding a immense measure of fun. And there are plenty of other great characters too, each with their own distinct personalities.

As for the story, it has a bit of a Sherlock Holmes feel with a touch of Edgar Allan Poe. There are detective-mystery threads and there are also darker elements involving necromancy and ghoulish creatures. Plus it all has a Victorian era feel to it. The characters ride around in horse drawn carriages, streets are lit by gas lamps and people arm themselves with pistols. The world building takes a backseat to the characters and the plot, but it's more than sufficient to keep things easy to understand. There are mentions of the fay, ghouls, sorcerers, witches and magic early on, but the story takes its time in slowly seeding those elements into the plot. The build up works well, and once it gets rolling, it's hard to stop. Criminal schemes become struggles to stay alive. Sorcery is pitched against sorcery. Plans fall to pieces and chaos ensues amid intertwining plots. It's a lot of fun.

If you like good stories that include a touch of fantasy combined with great characters, The Death of the Necromancer is definitely a story worth checking out. I typically don't read stories in this kind of setting, but Martha Wells created such compelling characters that it was easy to get into and enjoy. It's also worth noting that this book takes place in the same setting as The Element of Fire, but several hundred years later. I haven't read the other book yet, or any of the other books in Martha Well's Ile-Rien series, so I can definitely say readers can enjoy this book on it's own. I give it a five out of five.
5.0 out of 5 stars Basically, Sherlock Holmes from Moriarty's point of view, except set in a world with magic 27 February 2014
By David P Kleinschmidt - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author has actually expressed that this was her motivation-- tell the story from the point of view of the master criminal, and have the great detective as a secondary character. And it's a great starting point.
But it's also, like almost all of Martha Wells's work, a phenomenal speculative-fiction romp, with thrilling action and realistic romance (the protagonist and his girlfriend have a very adult, real relationship, very matter-of-fact and practical and based on mutual trust, but obviously the foundations are genuine love), unconventional characters that are beautifully fully-realized, even the incredibly-creepy murderous psycho villain (he's a real actual sociopath, no evil cackling or anything, just a fixed devotion to his work and an inability to recognize people as anything but objects in textbook sociopath fashion, despite the fact that he's literally an incredibly powerful undead sorcerer-necromancer-- and it says a lot, that a pretty-much-zombie is the most realistic villain I've encountered in a long time).

One of my favorite passages is when the protagonist, a man of diminutive stature, is being threatened by several burly guards, makes a self-deprecating joke, and then easily tricks them into letting him go. I love that he is so real, so complex a hero-villain, love that he is so unconventional, love that his motivations are so consistent, love the way he thinks and especially the ways he both does and does not change as a character throughout the course of the book.

Throw in the fact that it's a fantasy novel featuring fully-realized female characters with their own agency, as well as a gay character who is complex and yet gets a happy ending (unlike so many of the doomed-homosexual tropes), a character of color who is revealed to be much more than the simple servant he appears, an illiterate country-bumpkin character who demonstrates more sophistication and power than most-- her writing is always woven through with these kinds of characters, never props or stereotypes, and even the minor characters are *real*.
5.0 out of 5 stars A vividly imagined gaslight fantasy 19 January 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Martha Wells has described Nicholas Valiarde, the book's hero (using the term "hero" with caution), as the man who might have become the Moriarty of Ile-Rien. Instead, he was rescued from a life of poverty and crime by the eccentric Eduourd Viller, who adopted him as his son. But Edourd Viller, though not a sorcerer himself, was researching a method for anyone, regardless of sorcerous ability, to use magic. This strayed dangerously close to necromancy--a capital crime for which Viller was framed and then executed.

Since his foster-father's execution, Nicholas has dedicated his life to getting revenge on the man who framed Viller, the Count Montesq. To do this, he has created the persona of Donatien, the greatest thief in Ile-Rien and the bane of the brilliant Inspector Ronsarde. Yet just as Nicholas is about to set his complex plan, years in the making, into motion, something goes terribly wrong. The mysterious Dr. Octave, who somehow knows Donatien's true identity, begins to interfere, and Nicholas becomes caught up in a strange and dangerous plot that may involve an ancient necromancer--and possibly the fate of the entire kingdom.

Martha Wells is my all-time favorite author, and The Death of the Necromancer may be her best book. Her worldbuilding is always superb--think gaslight France with magic--and her characters never fail to satisfy. Nicholas is an especially complex and conflicted character; as his two lives come into contact for the first time, he is faced with the question: who is he, really? The scholar and art importer Nicholas Valiarde, who loves the actress Madeline? Or the shadowy and dangerous Donatien, who loves only revenge? His love-hate relationship with Inspector Ronsarde (a little like Ile-Rien's Sherlock Holmes) is handled superbly.

But you shouldn't think this is some kind of fantasy retelling of Sherlock Holmes. Although there are hints of Moriarty in Nicholas and of Sherlock and Watson in Ronsarde and his companion Halle, these are unique and original characters caught up in a unique and original plot. I absolutely cannot recommend this book enough, and I was extremely excited to see it re-released in ebook format. It's been out of print for so long that hard copies can be hard to come by, but at $2.99 there's really no reason for you to not buy this book right now. Some references are made to The Element of Fire, which precedes it, but Necromancer really is a standalone book and reading Fire is unnecessary. If you like Necromancer, your next step is to grab The Wizard Hunters, which picks up several decades later and starts off a trilogy.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book with two problems. 11 August 2013
By Charles Starratt - Published on
Verified Purchase
As do many, I consider this her best book. It has memorable action, a strongly developed alternate world, and interesting characters. But two minor points bother me. First, I get bored with all of the detailed descriptions of houses and street scenes that are never going to appear in the plot again. The opening of the book, for instance, describes, in detail, the home of a very rich lady and her party preparations. It takes more than a page, and then we never return to the character or her house again. Many descriptions are relevant, but, in my opinion,are too detailed, more than is necessary. If you love detailed scenery, she is your author.
Second, her characterization is off at times. The main character gets "infuriated" at times that do not seem to warrant it. The description of the other main character is not described well enough to explain why she is living the life she has chosen.
Still, I read the book quickly because itis exciting, has good minor characters, and has a plot just varied enough to keep things moving.

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