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Book One of the Chronicles of The Necromancer

 By Gail Z.Martin

 Dark Animus review by Natalie Cain

(Interview with Gail Z.Martin follows after the book review.)


This is Gail Z. Martin’s debut into the world of fantasy and an excellent stepping stone for further chronicles to come.  While this may be her commercial plunge into the world of fantasy, Gail has been writing since the tender age of 14 and has proven fantasy is definitely her forte.

The ghostly dimension of the afterlife is ever present in this tale of heartbreak, courage and retribution.  After a devastating loss of family, Tris must seek the power within and courage to summon those that have passed from this world to the next to help those wandering souls find peace.  He communicates with his guides to help him on his quest to restore his family’s honour.  The Summoner is a tale of friendship and examines the bonds that aren’t severed by the finality of death.  Tris and his companions are met with a myriad of hurdles, but together they overcome and conquer those in their path for the truth.

Complex and believable characters will have you supporting their crusade for justice from the very first pages.  You will believe communicating with those passed is possible and believe it is possible to harness magic within.  The Summoner is a fast paced, gripping read that will make it hard for you to put it down.  Gail’s original story writing is fantasy at its best.  I can’t wait to read Book 2 of the Chronicles of the Necromancer. Bring it on!

Publisher:  Solaris

ISBN 13: 978-1-84416-468-4  (Paperback 637 pages)

ISBN 10: 1-84416-468-3


Gail Z. Martin, author of The Chronicles of the Necromancer series, talks about her first book, The Summoner, and her upcoming second book, The Blood King, due in February from Solaris Books.

Excerpt from her new book: "The Blood King" - Part 2 of the Chronicles of the Necromancer

Q:  Your vayash moru are different from the usual vampires.  Tell us more.

Gail:   My vayash moru are not automatically the bad guys.  The Dark Gift is morally neutral—how you choose to act on it makes all the difference.  Some vayash moru get lost in the power and decadence—you’ll meet a few of those in The Blood King.  So they break the truce with mortals and the kill for the thrill.  That’s immortal whether you’re undead or not.  But most of the vayash moru in the Winter Kingdoms abide by the truce and live peaceably with their mortal neighbors in varying degrees of openness.  No one doubts that they exist.  In Margolan, especially in the back country, family ties extend beyond death very strongly with ghosts and vayash moru.  In Principality—and especially in Dark Haven—vayash moru continue their mortal relationships without fear.  You’ll see more about that also in The Blood King.  Nargi and Trevath are much less welcoming—vayash moru are persecuted and demonized.  When the truce is observed, the vayash moru feed on animals or take small amounts of blood from willing mortals, or feed on convicted criminals. 

The other difference with my vayash moru is that they have souls.  They have a soul that resides in an undead body which by the magic of the Dark Gift.  That’s different from a zombie, that has a soul forcibly restored to a rotting corpse. 


Q:  What is the role of a Summoner in your world?

Gail: A Summoner restores balance between the living and the dead.  He (or she) helps the living, dead and undead settle their unfinished business that was interrupted by death.  A Summoner helps ghosts and mortals tie up loose ends, settle differences, ask for information or approval—all those things that are left unresolved when someone dies.  A Summoner also helps trapped or conflicted souls pass over to the Lady.  All souls will eventually find their way without a Summoner, but a Summoner smooths the process for those who have something holding them here.  From a ritual perspective, a Summoner links the present and the past and enables ghosts and vayash moru to enter fully into the religious and social rituals, completing the cycle. So when there is no Summoner, things get unbalanced and the cycle isn’t complete.


Q:  How  is Summoning different from the other magics in The Winter Kingdoms.

Gail: The magics in the Winter Kingdom are based on the four primal elements—earth, air, wind and fire.  So Sakwi is a land mage—he has a special gift for working with the plants and animals, and a very powerful land mage could alter the land itself to some degree.  A water mage can raise or calm storms, communicate with the creatures of the sea, bring or stop rain, purify water, and other related tasks depending on his/her strength in the gift.  Fire magic is a volatile and seductive gift.  Arontala is a fire mage.  Fire mages can control lightning and lava and the mystery of changing form. Because of the opportunity to use fire as a weapon, this gift often corrupts its user.  Tris is a Summoner, who can control spirit.  Some mages can control air—storms and wind and noxious gases.  Healing magic is separate.  Carina’s healing ability is exceptionally strong.  Some healers have lesser gifts, and some have very particular talents—working with animals, helping with childbirth, etc.

 Within the gift, there is variation in talent, degree of training/practice and the morality of the mage.  In our world, not everyone who can play the piano goes on to be a concert pianist.  It depends on talent, drive and practice.  Likewise, exceptional athletic skill in our world could make you an athlete or a very adept thief.  It depends on how you choose to use the skill.  Many people in the Winter Kingdoms have a little bit of magic—like Carroway’s ability to make smoke figures.  Hedge witches have a tiny bit of magic, but not enough to become a full mage even with practice.  Most people don’t have any magic at all, but no one doubts the ability of magic.  Only in Nargi, and to a lesser extent in Trevath, is magic seen as suspicious and tightly controlled.


Q:  What’s coming up for the future after The Blood King.

Gail: We’re working on the details now on books 3 and 4 with an eye toward more after that, and I’m already working on book 3.  I can’t really say much about the next books without giving away a little about The Blood King!  The next books would come out in 2009 and 2010 respectively, so we’re looking at a book a year.  I have a lot of stories in mind, so I want to get to play in this world for a long time!


Q:  Jonmarc Vahanian is a popular character.  Tell us a little more about his role.

Gail: I’m very partial to Jonmarc.  In The Summoner, he’s a cynic—which I believe is a brokenhearted dreamer.  As the books unfold, we learn more about his life and how he came to be smuggling on the river.  We already know in The Summoner that Arontala was responsible for two of the greatest tragedies in his life—the death of his wife and the wrongful execution of his regiment at Chauvrenne.  And we know that he was a prisoner of the Nargi long enough to become fluent in their language.  We’ll find out more about his background in The Blood King. 

Jonmarc is a survivor.  Along the way, through some very tough times, he tells himself he doesn’t care about anything anymore.  He resists committing to Tris’ quest because he’s learned to be cautious.  Tris wins him over in part because Jonmarc is impressed by Tris’ raw power and thinks he might have a chance, but more importantly, Jonmarc comes to like Tris as a person, almost like a younger brother.  Remember that Jonmarc is ten years older than Tris, Carroway and Soterius, and six years older than Carina.  Tris treats Jonmarc with respect, not like a hired guard, and trusts him.  That more than anything wins Jonmarc over. 

And then there’s Carina.  Falling in love was absolutely the last thing Jonmarc expected when he took on the guide’s job.  He’s already lost a wife, and he’s had two other significant relationships go very badly, so although in The Summoner he’s only 29, he is very wary about love.  First, he’s impressed by Carina’s talent as a healer.  He’s seen a lot of battle healers, and he knows she’s exceptional.  And he’s as captivated as he is annoyed by her spirit.  He’s got a history of falling for women who heal him, and Carina has a history of falling for men who can protect her.  But they’re both wary because they’ve both been hurt, so they’ve got a very complicated relationship.  We’ll see more of that in The Blood King.


Q:  You just got back from Book Expo of America in New York City with Solaris Books.  Tell us about it!

Gail: New York rocks!  I went to Book Expo with George Mann and Vincent Rospond, who head up Solaris Books’ sales.  Book Expo is like dying and going to heaven and finding out that it really is filled with books and book people!  It’s where publishers connect with book store owners, book buyers and librarians to show them their lines and what’s coming up and try to get them to stock their books.  So I hung out in the Solaris Books booth and signed books and got to talk with folks who sell books or run libraries.  Very cool!  Thanks to George and Vincent, I also met some other SF/F folks and we had some nice evenings out.

I was one of the scheduled author signings, so I met up with readers, which was fun.  And I did a podcast about The Summoner and The Blood King.  So it was a great time and I think we introduced the whole Solaris Books line to a lot of people.


Q:  Will there be more books in the world of the Winter Kingdoms after The Blood King?

Gail: Absolutely.  I have a lot of stories in mind.  Some of them deal with the characters you’ve met in The Summoner—both before and after this story line.  Some of them deal with things that happened in Margolan’s history, and some deal with characters who haven’t been born yet.  I want to play in this sandbox for a long time!


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