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Guest Review: The Book of Ile Rien by Martha Wells



Collecting Martha Wells's Element of Fire and Death of the Necromancer for the first time in one place, in a new and revised edition! From the author of Witch King and the Murderbot Diaries. Both novels included in this volume have been revised and updated. These are the author’s preferred texts.

The Element of Fire: The kingdom of Ile-Rien lies in peril, menaced by sorcerous threats and devious intrigue, when Kade, bastard sister of King Roland, appears unexpectedly at court. The illegitimate daughter of the old king and the Queen of Air and Darkness herself, Kade's true desires are cloaked in mystery. It falls to Thomas Boniface, captain of the Queen's Guard, to keep the kingdom from harm. But is one man's steel enough to counter all the magic of fayre?

The Death of the Necromancer: Nicholas Valiarde is a passionate, embittered nobleman and the greatest thief in all of Ile-Rien. On the gaslit streets of the city, Nicholas assumes the guise of a master criminal, stealing jewels from wealthy nobles to finance his quest for a long-pursued vengeance. But Nicholas's murderous mission is being interrupted by a series of eerie, unexplainable, and fatal events. A dark magic opposes him, and traces of a necromantic power that hasn't been used for centuries abound. Nicholas and his compatriots find themselves battling an ancient evil. And if they lose? Death would be preferable to the fate that awaits them....


Opening Line:

The grappling hook skittered across the rain-slick stone of the ledge before dropping to catch in the grillwork below the third-story window. Berham leaned back on the rope to test it. “That’s it, Captain Sir. Tight as may be,” the servant whispered.

GUEST REVIEW by Sophia Rose

After progressing from the fun and unique sci-fi series the Murderbot Diaries to the adventure fantasy of The Witch King and City of Bones, I was primed for Tor’s reissue of two older Martha Wells’ stories revised and set in the same Ile-Rien world:  The Element of Fire and The Death of the Necromancer, titled The Book of Ile-Rien.


The Element of Fire was both the start of the series and has the happy circumstance of being a debut book. Since I have read the latest of the author’s releases, it was apparent this was a first book. However, the author’s talent in creating a full-fledged world, a stimulating, intriguing plot, and bold characters drew me in from the start. This is true of The Death of the Necromancer too. Element of Fire takes place years before the other and Death of the Necromancer shows it’s chronologically more recent by feeling less like medieval fantasy and more like Gaslamp fantasy or steampunk even. I enjoyed the characters and overall plot, particularly since both are steeped in my favorite fantasy trope -- political intrigue.  I was more drawn to the first book for the way the characters interacted with each other, particularly the complex and enigmatic Queen Ravenna, fiery and energetic half-human half-fae, Kade, and the swashbuckling charmer, Boniface. The second book’s twisting, exciting plot being its largest draw.


Now, I’m not going to lie, they both took their time getting going, which will seem weird since both dove headfirst into action with their opening scenes. My problem was that I was left racing far behind, trying to catch up on what was going on. Of course, this was likely intentional. Yet, it took me nearly half the first book to figure out what anything had to do with anything. And it took me half of the second book to connect the tie-ins to book one.  So, reader be warned, patience is required.


In summary, I enjoyed my latest adventures from the pen of a now favorite author.  I definitely plan to reach for more from her backlist. Those who enjoy light romance, heavy political intrigue, and fight action but don’t mind a slow build in their fantasies should give this series a try.


The Book of Ile Rien by Martha Wells

Fantasy/Gaslamp Fantasy

Publisher: Tor

Published: 2.27.24

Pages: 768

Rating: 4 stars

Format: eARC

White woman with shoulder length gray hair
Marsha Wells, author


Martha Wells has been an SF/F writer since her first fantasy novel was published in 1993, and her work includes "The Books of the Raksura" series, The Death of the Necromancer, the "Fall of Ile-Rien" trilogy, "The Murderbot Diaries" series, media tie-in fiction for Star Wars, Stargate: Atlantis, and Magic: The Gathering, as well as short fiction, YA novels, and non-fiction. She has won Nebula Awards, Hugo Awards, and Locus Awards. Her work has appeared on the Philip K. Dick Award ballot, BSFA Award ballot, USA Today Bestseller List, and New York Times Bestseller List. Her books have been published in twenty-two languages.

illustration of woman with brown hair and peach headband
Guest reviewer, Sophia Rose


Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, piano-playing, and gardening. Road trips and campouts, museums and monuments, restaurants and theaters are her jam. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, baseball, cats, Scooby Doo, and chocolate.

As a lifelong reader, it was inevitable that Sophia would discover book blogs and the joy of blog reviewing. In 2012, she submitted her first book review and is currently an associate reviewer.

Sophia is a prolific reader and audiobook listener which allows her to experience many wonderful books, authors, and narrators. Few genres are outside her reading tastes, but her true love is fiction particularly history, mystery, sci-fi, and romance. Sorry, no horror...or she will run like Shaggy and Scooby.

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