The Book of Ile-Rien collects the first two books in Martha Wells’ Ile-Rien universe, which takes place in a fantasy world with a steampunk flavor. Though I have the much-lauded Murderbot series on my TBR, I have never read any of Wells’ work before. The Element of Fire is her debut, and when this book crossed my dashboard I thought it’d be a decent place to start.
The Element of Fire – 3.5 stars
The return of the king’s bastard sister to the court of Ile-Rien ought to be Queen’s Guard commander Thomas’s biggest concern, but when the city comes under siege by a mysterious sorcerer, Kade might end up his best ally instead.
Though a semi-generic fantasy setting and convoluted world-building made it somewhat hard to get into the story, the characters completely won me over. Kade is an excellent heroine, combining in herself both whimsy and darkness, and I enjoyed her budding relationship with the swashbuckling Thomas. There’s plenty of action and political intrigue, and the complex secondary characters kept things tense. I did wish the end was not so abrupt though – maybe we’ll see more of Kade and Thomas later in the series?
The Death of the Necromancer – 4.5 stars
Gentleman thief Nicholas’s focus is on bringing down the man who betrayed his foster father, but his mission is disrupted when traces of forbidden necromantic magic appear to be dogging him.
Set a century after the previous book, we are introduced to a brand new cast of characters and an adventurous whirlwind of a story. The magic and the world felt more unique and fleshed out compared to the first book, and the homages that Wells paid to Sherlock Holmes and The Count of Monte Cristo were very fun. I also enjoyed the camaraderie and banter between Nicholas’s crew, as well as his relationship with the artful Madeline. However, I did think the action sequences had a tendency to drag on a little – I wish they’d been tightened up more.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. This is my honest and voluntary review.