A Murder of Mages by Marshall Ryan Maresca

Read October 2018
Recommended for fans of  classic noir, detroit
★     ★       ★     1/2

On a whim–still whittling down that TBR list, don’t you know–I picked this one out of the list. Well, actually, a whim and Carly’s review. She’s often my book-twin in the fantasy world:

What stands out here is a fantasy setting that is an action-focused plot structured like a police procedural. A woman and a man sharing lead, sharing narrative, and yet–this is remarkable here–not about to fall in love. I hope I don’t regret those words later. There are complex back stories for both characters that eventually get somewhat fleshed out. It’s one of the more interesting things about this tale, the feeling that both characters have lived through some significant personal events, particularly Satrine, the woman. And can we just talk about the woman a minute? A street rat grown up, undercover job in Intelligence, then married with kids and now a disabled husband. Seriously, sadly, unique in fantasy-land. But she is as tough as nails, and I believe both her rough beginning, passion for the job, and love for her family. I also like how feminist issues are woven into this story, although I’d probably question the realism of the character in that context. We’ll see. First book in the series and all that.

Writing is above average, with a nice balance between image, dialogue, and action. I’d say the most notable deficits seem to be in pacing/plotting. Most of the story takes place in three days, which is borderline insane. It’s not steam-punk, at this point. It feels like Victorian England-ish (I’m terrible at time periods) with a horse-cart based transportation system, a sewer system in place, and shop economies, along with various magical, secretive mage guilds.

I found the story very absorbing and finished in the same night. Granted, I wasn’t working, but it was that engaging. I’ll be picking up the next. Many thanks to Ms. Carly!

About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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8 Responses to A Murder of Mages by Marshall Ryan Maresca

  1. alicegristle says:

    I’m curious, what part of Satrine is unique in fantasy? I’m asking because I don’t read enough and don’t really recognise it. 😀

    • thebookgator says:

      Occupation plus mother. I can’t think of a main character off the top of my head who was both. Apparently, only young, single people can be adventurous 😀

      • alicegristle says:

        Ah, I see! I find that a bit curious, considering how “having it all” (a stupid phrase for a good thing) gets more play nowadays. But I guess fantasy has just as much capability to be reactionary as any other genre…

      • thebookgator says:

        That was such a great question! Really made me think. Most fantasy I read is about single people, which admittedly may be some bias on my part, but that’s because the other option seems to be paranormal romance. Curse of Chalion is about a woman in her 40s, which is amazing, but yes, most of the series seem to end with the HEA…

      • alicegristle says:

        You’ve mentioned Curse of Chalion before, right? Who wrote it again? Sounds like something I ought to read. 😀

      • thebookgator says:

        Lois Bujold. Crud, I get the two mixed up. Both are good, both are loosely connected. Curse is first and is an older man, advisor in a court. Paladin of Souls is the one with Issa, an older woman. I think its one of the few fantasies I’ve ever read with a 40 year old heroine.
        Hope you are doing well. 🙂

      • alicegristle says:

        Ah, the Vorkosigan writer? I’ve been meaning to pick up some Bujold for a long time now. Are the Vorkosigan books worth it, do you know? I’ll see if I can get Paladin of Souls. Hopefully it’ll double as research. 😀
        I’m doing better, thanks for asking!

      • thebookgator says:

        Yes, her. She has a legion of followers for that series. I’ve only read the first book in it, so I can’t really comment there. The first book felt… very 80s in the best sense of that word. Which it most likely was. 😀

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