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Fade to Black (Pain Mage Trilogy) Paperback – 26 Feb 2013

4.0 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (26 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316217689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316217682
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,373,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"Intensely realized and gripping."-- "Kirkus Reviews"

"Intensely realized and gripping." ""Kirkus Reviews"""

"The persistent sense of lurking danger along with Rojan's inner conflict between apathy and authentic emotion contribute to an absorbing read." ""RT Book Reviews"""

"Knight's debut recalls the vibrant, urban-based fantasies of China Mieville, Jay Lake, and Glen Cook. Combining traces of steampunk with urban noir fantasy, this story should appeal to fans of most fantasy variants." ""Library Journal"""

"A brilliant adventure/mystery which totally lived up to the cover... A thoroughly enjoyable read with plenty of twists and turns, and darkness enough to make the title perfectly apt. Highly recommended." """

""Fade to Black" is superb, and raises the benchmark quite high indeed for 2013's other debut fantasies. Very highly recommended." ""Civilian Reader"""

"A savage stab at organised religion and social control... emotionally powerful." ""Sun" (UK) on "Fade to Black"""

Book Description

An anti-hero takes on dark magic and corruption in this thrilling debut British fantasy adventure - set in the vertigo-inspiring city of Mahala --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
So, the Orbit marketing team did a really good job of getting this blasted all over my twitter and Facebook and making me fall in serious cover lust. It's just such a striking image - I love it - and reading the blurb only made me more interested. I was pleased that the story lived up to the promise.

The great strength of the story is the world. Mahala is an entirely believable place, horrific in its details, and Knight throws you in at the deep end - quite literally - starting the story in the dingy squalor of the lower levels of the city. It's a world that only ever gets second hand light, bounced off mirrors (if that) and the darkness hides evil deeds done by those from the Heights. The city is like one big metaphor for the rich - again quite literally - s***ting on the poor. But it manages to be so without being overly preachy.

The characters are great, with Rojan shining as the narrator. He's a cowardly, chauvinistic opportunist, but you can't help but like him, even before he starts stepping up to the plate of the challenges he's facing. Other, more minor, characters are just as good, from warrior Jake to unlikely hero Pasha, and there's plenty of damage to go round to add interesting layers and motivations.

Because this isn't just 'dark' fantasy in the literal 'it's a dark place' sense. Fade to Black deals with some challenging themes, and doesn't shy away from gore and violence. Which, personally, I like in a book - because it's always satisfying to see these empires of evil toppled by a plucky hero in a way that would likely never happen in the real world.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this. It's one that will lurk with you for a while - for all it reads like a fast paced adventure story with no real depth, there are as many layers to the story as there are to the city of Mahala.

Rating: 5/5
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By Book Critic TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are some great ideas here and an intriguing premise that sadly, just didn't deliver. The world building is terrific, the best thing in this novel by a mile. The characters have no discernible depth and the plot was one long cliché that reads like a checklist of currently fashionable themes: steampunk meets dystopia meets urban fantasy meets practical magic in a cod-noir style, in which a hard bitten Chandleresque anti-hero gets his comeuppance when he encounters the tough n' feisty, streetwise heroine and... yadda yadda yadda yadda ya. There is nothing fresh here, nothing I haven't read in a dozen other books. In the last few chapters, things start to speed up a bit; stuff actually happens, but the characters remain half-baked, unfinished, unconvincing. Stuff happens to them - pretty nasty stuff on the whole (the entire central concept is gory and not for the faint hearted, and also disturbingly and surprisingly misogynist, considering the author is female) - and I couldn't have cared less. The characters were so cardboard, I never grew to care about a single one of them.

Mahala is Fade to Black's sole saving grace. The city: the concept behind the city: the whole setting is fabulous. If world building is your thing as it is mine - read it for that alone.
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Format: Paperback
Oh man, this book and I didn't get along. There were bits I appreciated, the dark, gritty, almost post-apocalyptic atmosphere, the idea behind the pain mage, the fact that the writing is pretty crisp, and such. But I just had a lot of ragey issues with it.

Now, I'll acknowledge that Rojan was an anti-hero and normally I can handle, even like an anti-hero. But combined with the sexism in the book, it was more than I could handle and still come out liking the character or the book.

We'll start with the easy one. Rojan is a womanizing jerk. If he wants to avoid monogamy, fine, but he lies to his female partners and has NO RESPECT FOR THEM. Now, again, I don't have to like everything about a hero. So, I could acknowledge this fact as an unfortunate part of the character's character and move on. Unfortunately, I don't think Francis Knight respects women either. Because there are so many ways women are disrespected, often in unnecessary and maybe even unintentional ways in this book that I couldn't also accept Rojan's sexism as a simple character trait. Instead it became one more symptom in the diseased whole.

About 30% into this book I stopped and sighed. I sighed and said to myself, "Oh, this is ANOTHER book pretty much entirely predicated on the victimization of girls and women." (God, I am so tired of how common this is.) Basically all of the victims of violence (that does not need to differentiate by gender, the magic doesn't know the difference) are female. I'll give Knight credit for having a few token boy victims; that's more than a lot of authors like this manage, but tokens really are all they are. At one point someone asks the main character how many little girls he sees running around and the answer is none, only boys.
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Format: Paperback
Fade to Black by Francis Knight

This is really a great debut novel. There is a lot to like about it and there is a bit even to detest. It's written in a stylish Noir that reminds me of the old black and white mysteries with the gumshoes. Sort of a Mystic Maltese Falcon. The main character is Rojan Dizon a pain Mage who really isn't all that fond of pain so he's tried not to do too much magic. There's more to it than that though because too much pain magic can lead to a very dark place that often is impossible for the Mage to find his way out of. Rojan has lived in a dark world in a black existence trying to avoid another darkness that makes everything around him seem pale in comparison. He uses his magic to locate people and that's how the reader is introduced to him when an unsavory client hires him to find and bring back his teen age daughter Lise who has run away. Lise has some tricks up her sleeve that have made his job particularly difficult and he's had to resort to a device manufactured by a dwarf colleague. The device amplifies his magic which mean he has to still endure pain but a bit less of it to get good result. Rojan is not a particularly likeable character but what he does in his interaction with Lise tells us that there is someone with just a bit more heart behind the veneer that covers him in the first part of the book.

As the story unfolds we begin to find the reason that Rojan lives on the edge using his magic illegally and defying the Ministry. There was a golden age when Pain Mages controlled things and were powerful. They were trained to properly use the magic. Then the Ministry stepped in and began to ban the use of pain magic.
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