Book Review + GIVEAWAY: A Murder of Mages by Marshall Ryan Maresca
***The giveaway is now over, thank you to everyone who entered!***
A review copy was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Series: Book 1 of the Maradaine Constabulary
Publisher: DAW (July 7, 2015)
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
A Murder of Mages is the first book of a series dedicated to the Maradaine Constabulary, set in the same wonderful world as Marshall Ryan Maresca’s debut novel The Thorn of Dentonhill. No need to read one before the other, though; that’s the beauty of it. Despite their shared setting, the series are companions to one another, each featuring separate stories and starring completely different characters.
And having read both books now, I can say they are both equally great. However, A Murder of Mages might have just the slightest itty-bitty edge here, since I admit a penchant for detective stories, not to mention a super soft spot for lady cops.
One of the main protagonists is Satrine Rainey – a wife, a mother of two, and a former street rat and ex-spy. After her constable husband suffers a grave injury in the line of duty, it is up to Satrine to figure out a way to support and care for the family. Using her skills, she is able to fake her way into the Maradaine Constabulary to land herself a job as an Inspector third class, where she is promptly paired up with another inspector who no one wanted to partner with – Minox Welling, an Uncircled mage nicknamed Jinx because his past partners have all met with unfortunate accidents.
Her first day on the job, Satrine is sent out with Minox to the streets where she grew up to investigate the body of a mage found in an alley, staked to the ground with his heart cut out. When more victims of these ritual murders are discovered, a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues as the inspectors race against time to track down the elusive killer.
Once again, the author is able to create something altogether unique and fresh by adding his own twist to a familiar idea like the male and female crime-solving duo. I enjoyed the dynamics in the relationship between Satrine and Minox, especially since we know right off the bat that it will be a platonic one. The narrative makes it clear that Satrine has a disabled husband at home who she is deeply devoted to, which in and of itself is an intriguing albeit heartbreaking element to throw into the mix.
Satrine is genuinely one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever met. Without overwhelming us with details, Maresca gives us a glimpse into her rough childhood as a street urchin. After she was recruited by the Druth Intelligence and did her stint as a spy, Satrine met and married Loren Rainey and they had two daughters. In light of the devastating accident that leaves Satrine as the sole provider and caregiver for her husband and their girls, I really couldn’t blame her for deceiving the Constabulary to get her job under false pretenses. A mother wants the best for her children, and in Satrine’s case she wanted to give Rian and Caribet a good life and a good education, the sort of opportunities Satrine could only dream about when she was their age. It’s hard to fault her for those sentiments.
I didn’t get as deep of a feel for Minox Welling, but he’s a great character as well. Mages are a complex class in these Maradaine novels, as evidenced by the protagonist of Maresca’s first novel The Thorn of Dentonhill. Through Minox the reader was able to get a better feel for how mages fit in this society. Uncircled mages like him appear to be treated with disdain (you’re either a failure, in hiding, or a late-bloomer – none of which are good to be) and even Circled mages seem feared and distrusted by the local populace. Having a child who is a mage is even a source of shame for some families.
Having two series in tandem is certainly a remarkable way to build a world, but it is also very effective. Despite not being a sequel or even a follow up to The Thorn of Dentonhill, A Murder of Mages added a lot to what we know of Maradaine, providing a look at the everyday hustle and bustle of its citizenry from all walks of life. Marshall Ryan Maresca has a true knack for creating rich settings as well as characters that feel very real and well-rounded. There’s always something special to the people he writes about, whether they are mage students or constable inspectors. A Murder of Mages was another hit for me, a fantastic read from a new talent whose star continues to be on the rise.
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A MURDER OF MAGES GIVEAWAY
Interested in the book? Now here’s your chance to win it. The publisher has very generously offered The BiblioSanctum an opportunity to host a giveaway for one print copy of A Murder of Mages. With apologies to international readers, this giveaway is US only. To enter, all you have to do is send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your Name and valid Mailing Address using the subject line “A MURDER OF MAGES” by 11:59pm Eastern time on Sunday, June 28, 2015.
Only one entry per household, please. The winner will be randomly selected when the giveaway ends and then be notified by email. All information will only be used for the purposes of contacting the winner and sending them their prize. Once the giveaway ends all entry emails will be deleted.
So what are you waiting for? Enter to win! Good luck!