The Death of the Necromancer

The Death of the Necromancer

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452666327
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date: 09/30/2013
Series: Ile-Rien Series , #2
Edition description: MP3 - Unabridged CD
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Martha Wells is the author of a number of fantasy novels, including The Cloud Roads, The Wizard Hunters, and the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer.

A native of the United Kingdom, Audie and AudioFile Earphones Award winner Derek Perkins's audiobook narration skills are augmented by a knowledge of three foreign languages and a facility with accents. He has narrated numerous titles in a wide range of fiction and nonfiction genres. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA.

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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Death of the Necromancer 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating and riveting story, which held me on the edge of my seat. Full of twists and turns, it was enticing and enjoyable. The characterizations and rich settings are a treat to the imagination, lush and vivid. It is both a fantasy and a mystery, deftly combined.
Mintypink on LibraryThing 10 months ago
With prose as rich in detail as the surroundings she describes, Martha Well¿s fictional Ile-Rien that is the setting for The Death of the Necromancer, seems the perfect backdrop to a very elaborate plot. It seems French in origin but the reader would get lost if he/she attempted to assign modern day countries to their fantasy counterparts in this novel. Indeed, it would be easy to become overwhelmed in such a novel but Wells is an expert at introducing her characters and scenery. When the scenes are set in places with great architecture, however, the vocabulary becomes slightly esoteric.Wells engages all senses of the body as she takes you through this mystery. It may not be a self-categorized genre, but because the reader must follow the characters, we don¿t know anything that hasn¿t already been revealed to our protagonists. Madeline Denare is introduced to us first and while she is an incredibly interesting and potentially complex character, she plays a supporting role to Nicholas Valiarde. Captain Reynard Morane, a military man to complete our trio, is another supporting character. Their interactions are so believable that it would be hard not to connect with them. Nothing is what it seems in this novel. Enemies exist at every level, and throughout the pages the struggles between good and evil, political enemies, and friends that seems like opponents, play out in extraordinary detail. Ghouls and other revenants decorate the plot for our enjoyment.The Death of the Necromancer could be considered an adventure, but that wouldn¿t do it justice. It is a shrouded in mystery as our protagonist Nicholas is. It is full of magic, political intrigue, and the ever elusive je ne sais pas that compels readers to devour each page and hungrily flip to the next.
bruce_krafft on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I like the characters. Nicholas seeks to get back at the evil count who orchestrated the execution of his foster father. He brings a small group of people together in this common cause - the destruction of Count Montesq. They are turned away from this goal when events interrupt their mission, ghouls in basements, violent deaths and mysterious illness.
dwhapax on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Enjoyable. I liked the characters and appreciated that the woman never needed to be 'rescued', etc. Didn't make me think about things in a new way, though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Martha Wells is one of the few authors whose works I will buy without even glancing at the back cover. Death of the Necromancer was the first book of her's I ever read. I've now read it at least seven times and I still enjoy it. It has the best aspects of mystery, capers (two different topics), adventure, politics, and magic. Her characters are multi-dimensional with their own flaws and reasons for their actions. Each character has a backstory that both makes sense and informs their actions and drives the plot. In summary, this is the book that I reference as my favorite whenever someone asks.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As to be expected from Martha Wells, this is an interesting and unique fantasy book with great characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Skuldren More than 1 year ago
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 land…at 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago