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The Book of Ile-Rien

The Book of Ile-Rien, March 2024
by Martha Wells

Tordotcom
752 pages
ISBN: 1250873134
EAN: 9781250873132
Kindle: B0C1X8HKSM
Trade Paperback / e-Book
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"War against dark dimensions"

Fresh Fiction Review

The Book of Ile-Rien
Martha Wells

Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted April 4, 2024

Fantasy Historical | Fantasy

Ile-Rien is a fantasy land featuring in a five-novel series by award-winning Martha Wells. For 2024, the first two instalments have been updated and merged to form THE BOOK OF ILE-RIEN.  

The Element of Fire is part one, and those who like to enter a fantasy with someone young who has all their learning ahead, won’t get into this one easily. Politics and backstabbing are strong points in a tale with gory war against dark dimensions. Dowager Queen Ravenna lives in a stone castle with her son Roland and his Queen Falaise. We also meet her stepdaughter Kade, a half-Fae sorcerer, and her scheming cousin Denzil who serves Roland. At the start, guard captain Thomas Boniface is assaulting a town house full of magic traps, to retrieve a kidnapped elderly man who is another sorcerer, Galen. Thomas, we learn, has been the lover of the widowed Queen.

The wizard Galen Dubell becomes a key element in the city’s battle against a sudden invasion of magical and demonic beasts. The High Minister Aviler and a young sorcerer Braun fight off golems to take shelter behind the castle’s magical wardstones.  Pistols and swords hold off the onslaught, but for how long? Thomas and Kade decide a renegade sorcerer Urbain Grandier must be bargaining with the Unseelie Court of Fae. This is a desperate and well-peopled adventure in which nobody seems assured a happy ever after.

The Death of the Necromancer is the second tale set 100 years later. In the town of Vienne, we find thieves in the cellars. Crack, Cusard, Lamane and Nicholas, who is partway through a medical degree, attempt to steal from a town house during a ball. Captain Reynard Morane and Madeline Denare, attending the party, similarly hope to steal from Mondollot House without knowing of the bandits. The disturbance of a ghoul and gargoyles, which may have lain hidden for a century, put an end to merriment.

Now, I don’t read horror, so once I found this had descended to horror and I was ticking off words I dislike, such as revenant, corpse, ghoul, necromancer, I stopped paying attention and skipped to the end. There isn’t much else besides a haunted house in this one. We meet Rahene Fallier, the Court Sorcerer, and Macob, a necromancer. Anyone who does enjoy horror will get more from this tale. I had been hoping to get outside the cities and see the land of Ile-Rien, but I expect I’ll need to try another of the series for the surroundings. THE BOOK OF ILE-RIEN is a strong dark fantasy couplet and quite different to Martha Wells’s brilliant Murderbot and Raksura stories. Everyone will decide on their favourites.

Learn more about The Book of Ile-Rien

SUMMARY

Collecting Martha Wells' Element of Fire and Death of the Necromancer for the first time in one place, in a new and revised edition!

From the author of Witch King and the Murderbot Diaries:

Both novels included in this volume have been revised and updated. These are the author’s preferred texts.

The Element of Fire

The kingdom of Ile-Rien lies in peril, menaced by sorcerous threats and devious intrigue, when Kade, bastard sister of King Roland, appears unexpectedly at court. The illegitimate daughter of the old king and the Queen of Air and Darkness herself, Kade's true desires are cloaked in mystery.

It falls to Thomas Boniface, Captain of the Queen's Guard, to keep the kingdom from harm. But is one man's steel enough to counter all the magic of fayre?

The Death of the Necromancer

Nicholas Valiarde is a passionate, embittered nobleman and the greatest thief in all of Ile-Rien. On the gaslit streets of the city, Nicholas assumes the guise of a master criminal, stealing jewels from wealthy nobles to finance his quest for a long-pursued vengeance.

But Nicholas's murderous mission is being interrupted by a series of eerie, unexplainable, and fatal events. A dark magic opposes him, and traces of a necromantic power that hasn't been used for centuries abound. Nicholas and his compatriots find themselves battling an ancient evil.

And if they lose? Death would be preferable to the fate that awaits them....


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