Alex Pheby. Tor, $29.99 (624p) ISBN 978-1-250-81721-1
The impressive first in a Dickensian epic fantasy trilogy from Pheby (Lucia)makes its U.S. debut, putting a young thief at the mercy of supposed benefactors gunning for him due to his mysterious family connections. The city of Mordew, its name derived from “Mort Dieu” and built atop a divine corpse, was created and is controlled by a man called the Master, who is locked in perpetual war with his rival, the Mistress. Thirteen-year-old Nathan Treeves grows up in Mordew’s slums, where, in his quest to obtain medicine for his dying father, he is recruited by the crime lord Mr. Padge and rounded up to work with other slum boys by the Fetch, an agent of the Master. Though he’s warned not to use his inherited magic Spark, Nathan employs his powers to raid the mansions of the wealthy and gain access to the Master—who gives Nathan the task of killing the Mistress. Pheby sharply observes the ways in which power creates, corrupts, and is amalgamated from ancestor to descendant, and while his unsparing dissection of the sinews of society call to mind the fantasies of Jack Vance and China Miéville, here there’s more cold intellect and less sympathetic heart than within those works. Readers who enjoy intricate worldbuilding and morally gray characters would do well to snap this up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 05/28/2021
Release date: 09/14/2021
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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