Scourge Paperback – 13 Jul 2017
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About the Author
Gail Z. Martin is the best-selling author of Chronicles of the Necromancer series, the Deadly Curiosities series and, with Larry N. Martin, the steampunk adventure, Iron and Blood for Solaris. She has also written the The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga and The Fallen Kings Cycle for Orbit Books
Top customer reviews
But there is a lot mire to see, monsters, magic and a local politician willing to do whatever it takes to cling to power.
I was gifted a pdf copy in exchange for an honest opinion. I had actually pre ordered the book as soon as Gail announced its imminent release and having read all her other fantasy fictions was really looking forward to this and it didn't disappoint.
The first pages are full on dragging you immediately into the story making sure you want to read on. It does slow down a bit for a little while but then the pace picks up again and its difficult to put down when you get to the end of a chapter because you just want to read the next chapter to find out what happens next.
I found the characters interesting and the world they live in engaging, you want to know how they get on, what they are going to do and ultimately if they prevail.
This is the first in a new series and I can't wait for the next chapter.
Its not light reading so don't expect to be anle to pick it up and put it down on a whim, you need to take time to get to know the characters and you reallt invest in their plight.
Great read, thanks Gail
Scourge has a lively opening and I was immediately hooked in. I wanted to know more about the world, the characters and what the brothers could do. They're undertakers sure, but they can dispel ghosts and help them cross over, and that's not all there is to the boys either. Corran is the eldest of the three, none of the boys have had a great time recently but Corran's faced a bit more tragedy than the other two. He's been going out hunting the monsters with a group of Hunters...which is kind of against the rules, but if they don't do it, who will?
Rigan might be my favourite, he's the middle child, and he's got the totally awesome power of hearing a spirits last confession. It also turns out that he's a witch, so he spends a good portion of the book coming to terms with his power, and learning what it can do and how to use it. But ya know....Witch's are kind of frowned upon in the world of this book so it's not entirely without danger.
Then we have Kell. Arguably, Kell is the safest of the three because he's not a Hunter nor is he a Witch. He's just the regular younger brother, with a cheeky side business going on that's not really harming anyone. He's funny and smart, but I feel like we didn't get to know him as much as the other two. I should have seen things coming to be honest, when we didn't get as much of his POV as the other two. Now, maybe I'm just salty, but I feel like his sole role in the book was to be killed off because of the monsters and guards, to then spur Corran and Rigan in to action. I was expecting big things from Kell, and from the three of them in general, and I just think it's such a shame that he was killed off and for such a stupid reason. Like I thought the way he was taken by the guards was a bit ridiculous. We already knew the monsters where bad and the Guards weren't much better and I feel like we spent a part of the book waiting around for the perfect moment to kill Kell...then killed him and then Corran and Rigan found the balls to do what they where always going to end up doing anyway. Like of all the things that happened, there was plenty to spur them on. But you know..I'm probably just salty. So never mind.
So anyway, we get the POV of the three brothers, as well as Machison the villainous Lord Mayor who's up to no good. He's pretty much the nastiest character in the book, he schemes and plots and makes everyones lives a misery and I really couldn't wait for him to get what was coming to him. Although his paranoia was quite amusing because like....stop doing the thing if you don't want people taking revenge dude!
As for the brothers, they where all relatable and likeable characters. They had strengths and they had flaws which just made them all the more realistic. Each brother had a different voice, different wishes and plans and so on, and their narratives wove together well. I enjoyed the switching of the POV's because it let us get to know each of them better and see different sides to them...the side they show their brothers and the other side they're hiding. The POV changes also kept the narrative moving forward and Machison's provided some light dastardly plotting.
The world of the book is fascinating, it had a touch of the medieval to it, and there's plenty of intrigue and politics. You have the Lord Mayor and the Merchant Princes who are in charge...and then the Crown Prince that they all answer to. The Guild's have their own representatives and they're doing their own thing too. Everyone's out for themselves and out to get their rivals to get the best business and so on. There's lots of Trade agreements and pacts and such. Considering all the intricacies of the world and the politics and the plot, it's very well set up. Martin builds the world up around you easing you in to it bit by bit, and relaying information as when you need it.
That being said...I do feel like it went on a bit too long in some places. I feel like some of the explanations about the world and the politics and such went on a little bit too long, usually in Machison's POV. I feel like we spent the first three hundred pages or so doing not all that much except meandering around the city, reading explanations that where a bit too long and waiting for the opportune moment for Kell to die, or all the lengthy explanations had to be got out of the way before Kell died. I'm not sure which. I think there where some parts that could have been cut out to make it snappier. Don't get me wrong, there where things going on. Corran and his hunting and Rigan learning to control his magic, and the tension was building up with the people of the city in general. They aren't happy with the monster situation and the evil and useless guards, which is easy to understand. But I feel like it all did go on a bit too long and we could have reached the turning point a bit sooner. Nothing significant really happened until Kell died and then everything kicked up in to high gear and moved a lot faster.
I also felt there where a couple of repetitive moments, Rigan getting beat up by the guards...again. Kell's love interest running away in to the night with no explanation and no clue as to her whereabouts, exactly the same and not long after Rigan's love interest did. Sure I knew there was an explanation for it, but it seemed a bit too samey. My one other niggle is the whole Kell making an offering, pact type thing to protect his brothers which then immediately became redundant because Rigan and Corran made their own pact, it just added another thing to my whole 'it was pointless killing Kell' argument.
Back to the positive stuff.....Aiden, Polly, Elinor and Trent are a good bunch of supporting characters and I'm looking forward to getting to see some more of them in the coming books! I'd like to get to know them a bit better. I can't decide if I feel like Rigan and Elinor's relationship was a bit rushed or not, so that's the only comment I'll make about that. It's not like romance is the main focus of the book anyway.
Towards the end of the book, like I said, the pace really picked up as everything came together and fell in to place. The book wrapped up everything from this story and left one thread to carry us over to the next book, it was intriguing enough and I had enough fun reading this book for me to want to read the next one. I'm intrigued to see what's going to happen to our characters next and what part of the world of the book we'll get to see next.
Scourge is a great blend of fantasy and the supernatural, set against an interesting backdrop and populated with relatable and realistic characters. There's some epic fight scenes and lots of blood and death, I'm not going to lie....I mean...our main characters are undertakers. It also has a sense of Supernatural about it...but you know, fantasy edition. Despite a niggle or two I had, I actually really enjoyed the book. It was fantasy and the plot had complexities to it, but even with the overly long explanations it wasn't too hard or complicated to understand. It's certainly original, and I also found it quite fun too.
1 / 5
It gives me no pleasure to say it, but Scourge was a tedious read. It was repetitive, I could barely differentiate between the three brothers, and I had very little emotional investment the whole way through. Whilst I did appreciate Martin's creativity with the monsters (the skin-burrowing ones really freaked me out), I wasn't a fan of Scourge.
"Undertaking, like all the trades in Ravenwood, was a hereditary profession; that it came with its own magic held no surprise"
At the heart of this book are the three Valmonde brothers: Corran, Rigan, and Kell. They are undertakers, which I thought was a really neat perspective; they prepare the bodies of the dead for the grave and the afterlife, sometimes taking extra coin for a good burial, sometimes to damn the soul of another to the void. To do their craft they utilise one of the few permitted forms of magic: grave magic, used to hear the confessions of the dead and banish the unruly spirits. Initially, I loved the brothers. Their vocation was original and their dynamic a breath of fresh air, but before long they began to fit into very precise archetypes.
"Monsters returned time and again to Ravenwood, and when they did, tradesmen became hunters"
Corran is the warrior, fighting monsters that roam the streets of Ravenwood, unchecked by the guards that do little more than terrorise the locals; Rigan is the mage, learning illegal magics from the witches of Below; Kell is the dutiful youngest brother, trying to keep the house together. Despite these different roles, they all have very similar personalities: quick to anger, swift to revenge, in love with a girl they can't have, and far too many brushes with death. I swear that after about the sixth time that Rigan has used too much magic and his life is "with the hands of the gods", I stopped caring. And we see so much repeated: Corran fights monsters illegally and worries that the guards will catch him, Rigan trains in magic illegally and worries that the guards will catch him, Kell cooks dinner and worries that the guards will catch his brothers. Yawn.
"Plant the seeds, feed the rumours. Wanderers, witches, and monsters - it's a perfect storm"
Ravenwood is ruled by the iron fist of Lord Mayor Machison, a thoroughly unpleasant man who tortures peasant men and sexually violates their wives. A real charmer. Ravenwood is a sort of city-state, part of a League of ten such cities who are always jostling for favourable treaties. The trade treaty for Ravenwood is coming up for renewal and the three Merchant Princes and the various Guilds are jostling (and stabbing each other) for favourable terms. The explanation of all of this is very long, strung-out, and technically and politically boring. There's lots of meetings, assassinations, and treatise talk, alongside the Valmonde brothers' plot-line, and it's terribly slow.
Scourge is a mix of genres and ideas: it's about monsters, brothers and family, magic and oppression, trading and politics. Martin has a creative mind and it really does show, but unfortunately I found Scourge to be very tedious to read. It could have been cut a great deal in length and not lost much, due to the repetitive nature of all the monster-hunting and magic-learning scenes.
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Been a fan since summoner and with this new world Gail doesn't disappoint. There a suprisein the story, a vivid world and a new take on magic.Read more
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