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Death of Necromancer

Death of Necromancer

by Wells M.

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...

On the gas light streets of the city, he assumes the guise of a master criminal, stealing jewels from wealthy nobles to


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...

On the gas light streets of the 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 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-Rein.

But now Nicholas's murderous mission is being interrupted by a series of eerie, unexplainable, even fatal events. Someone with tremendous magical powers is opposing him. Children vanish, corpses assume the visage of real people, mortal spells are cast, and traces of necromantic power that hasn't been used for centuries are found. And when a spiritualist unwittingly leads Nicholas to a decrepit mansion, the monstrous nature of his peril finally emerges in harrowing detail. Nicholas and his compatriots must destroy an ancient and awesome evil. even teh help of Ile-Rien's greatest sorcerer may not be enough, for Nicholas faces a woefully mismatched battle—and unthinkable horrors await the loser.

Author Biography: Martha Wells was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and received her B.A. in anthropology from Texas A & M University. She is the author of two previous novels, The Element of Fire and City of Bones. She lives with her husband in College Station, Texas.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Nicholas Valiarde is a man of several parts, or roles. One is that of disenfranchised nobleman, bent on revenge for the execution of his godfather, Edouard Viller, who was falsely accused of the capital offense of necromancy by the scheming Count Montesq. Another is that of the master thief Donatien, legendary criminal of Ile-Rien. These two roles collide when Nicholas encounters ghouls and a sorcerer known as Doctor Octave in the cellars of a duchess's house while carrying out a robbery. Sinister forces are at work in Ile-Rien. Citizens have gone missing, corpses have turned up vivisected, bones have washed up in the sewer gates. All the evidence points to a necromancer at work, very probably someone with access to the books of the infamous Constant Macob, believed dead for over 200 years. As he investigates, Nicholas and his misfit friends uncover a plot that leads them into a series of escalating confrontations with the evil creations of Macob, as the necromancer schemes to gather enough power to return to life. The setting echoes with the lively sounds and sights of turn-of-18th-century France, with a mesh of dark magic woven throughout. In her third novel, Wells (City of Bones; The Element of Fire) continues to demonstrate an impressive gift for creating finely detailed fantasy worlds rife with many-layered intrigues and immensely personable characters. (June)
Library Journal
In the guise of the master thief Donatien, nobleman Nicholas Valiarde seeks the evidence necessary to bring the murderous Count Montesq to justice. When his efforts involve him with a powerful and unscrupulous necromancer, Nicholas realizes that he must join forces with the implacable detective Sebastion Ronsarde, even at the cost of his own freedom. Set in the same world as The Element of Fire (Tor, 1994), Wells's latest novel depicts a society reminiscent of Europe in the late 19th century. An enchanting blend of detection and sorcery, it features a memorable cast of characters and a wealth of "period" detail. Highly recommended for most fantasy collections.
Kirkus Reviews
Sequel to The Element of Fire (not reviewed), its backdrop resembling a 19th-century Paris that within living memory was occupied by the Unseelie Court. By day in the city Vienne, in the land of Ile-Rien, Nicholas Valiarde is a modestly wealthy art importer; by night, evading the attentions of the tenacious and capable Inspector Sebastion Ronsarde, Nicholas becomes the thief Donatien. Either way, his vast and intricate plot to destroy his mortal enemy, Count Rive Montesq, is reaching a critical phase. The villainous Montesq arranged the execution of Nicholas's beloved mentor, Dr. Edouard Viller, on the false charge of necromancy. But Nicholas finds his plans are being disrupted by the mysterious spiritualist Dr. Octave, who appears to be using a device invented by Viller to contact the dead. Worse, Octave is backed by a hidden but extremely powerful sorcerer. Nicholas's own sorcerous helper, the opium addict Arisilde, inexplicably falls into a deathlike coma, while his other assistants, ex-Guards Captain Reynard and actress Madeline, continue to probe the affairs of Montesq. As Nicholas strives to keep ahead of a ghastly and lethal Sending, he learns the probable identity of his adversary, a sorcerer named Constant Macob. Problem is, Macob's been dead for 200 years

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.65(w) x 9.55(h) x 1.21(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The most nerve-racking commissions, Madeline thought, were the ones that required going in through the front door. This front door was simply more imposing than most.

Lit by gray moonlight, the monumental facade of Mondollot House loomed over her, studded with lighted windows. High above the street the pediment was a passionately carved relief of the hosts of Heaven and Hell locked in battle, the shrouds of doomed saints and the veils of the angels flying like banners or hanging down to drape gracefully over the stone canopies of the upper windows. A quartet of musicians played from an open balcony somewhere above, entertaining the guests as they arrived. Glass sconces around the doorway had been an unfortunate modern addition; the flicker and peculiar color of gaslight made it look as if the door was meant to be the mouth, of Hell itself. Not a serendipitous choice, but the Duchess of Mondollot has never been singled out for restraint or taste, Madeline thought, but kept an ironic smile to herself.

Despite the frosty night air and the chill wind off the river, there were other guests milling around on the wide marble portico, admiring the famous pediment. Madeline tucked her hands more firmly into her muff and shivered, partly from the cold, partly from anticipation. Her coachman received his instructions and urged the horses away, and her escort Captain Reynard Morane strolled back toher. She saw the flakes of snow on the shoulders of his caped greatcoat, and hoped the weather held until later tonight, at least. One disaster at a time, she thought, with animpatient shake of her head. Let's just get inside the place first.

Reynard extended an arm to her. "Ready, m'dear?"

She took it with a faint smile. "Very ready, sir."

They joined the crowd of other guests milling toward the entrance.

The tall doors stood open, light and warmth spilling out onto the scuffed paving stones. A servant stood to either side, wearing the knee breeches and silver braided coats of old style livery. The man taking the invitations wore the dark swallowtail coat of fashionable evening dress. I don't imagine this is the butler, Madeline thought grimly. Reynard handed over their invitation and she held her breath as the man opened the linenpaper envelope.

She had come by it honestly, though if she had needed to she could have gone to the finest forger in the city: an old man nearly blind, who worked in a dank cellar off the Philosopher's Cross. But she could sense something stirring in the eaves overhead, in the dimness high above the reach of the gas lamps. Madeline did not look up and if Reynard was aware of it he betrayed no reaction. Their informant had said a familiar of the sorcerer who protected the house would guard the door, an old and powerful familiar to spy out any magical devices brought in by the guests. Madeline clutched her reticule more tightly, though none of the objects in it were magical. If it were searched, there was no way a sorcerer of any competence whatsoever could fail to recognize what they were for.

"Captain Morane and Madame Denare," the man said. "Welcome." He handed the invitation off to one of the footmen and bowed them in.

They were ushered into the vestibule where servants appeared to collect Madeline's fur-trimmed paletot and muff and Reynard's greatcoat, cane and top hat. A demure maid was suddenly kneeling at Madeline's feet, brushing away a few traces of gravel that had adhered to the hem of her satin skirts, using a little silver brush and pan specially designed for the purpose. Madeline took Reynard's arm again and they passed through the entryway into the noisy crush of the main reception area.

Even with the carpets covered by linen drapers and the more delicate furniture removed, the hall wasopulent. Gilded cherubs peered down at the milling guests from the heavy carved molding and the ceilings were frescoed with ships sailing along the western coast. They joined the crowd ascending the double staircases and passed through the doors at the top and into the ballroom.

Beeswax, Madeline thought. They must have been at the floors all night. Beeswax, and sandalwood and patchouli, and sweat, heavy in the air. Sweat from the warm presence of so many finely-clothed bodies, and sweat from fear. It was all so familiar. She realized she was digging her gloved nails into Reynard's arm in a death grip, and forced her fingers to unclench. He patted her hand distractedly, surveying the room.

The first dance had already started and couples swirled across the floor. The ballroom was large even for a house this size, with draped windows leading out onto balconies along the right hand side and doors allowing access to card rooms, refreshment and retiring moms along the left. Across the back was a clever arrangement of potted winter roses, screening, four musicians already hard at work on the cornet, piano, violin, and cello. The room was lit by a multitude of chandeliers burning expensive wax candles, because the vapors from gas were thought to ruin fine fabrics.

Madeline saw the Duchess of Mondollot herself, lead"In out the Count of. . .of something, she thought, distractedly.I can't keep them straight anymore. It wasn't nobility they had to be wary of, but the sorcerers. There were three of them standing against the far wall, in dark swallowtail coats, wearing jeweled medals from Lodun. One of them wore a ruby brooch and sash of the Order of Fontainon, but even without it Madeline would have known him. He was Rahene Fallier, the court sorcerer. There would be women sorcerers here too, more dangerous and difficult to spot because they would not be wearing presentation medals or orders with their ball gowns.

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