People see the world and think it’s made of wind and rock and water, when really it’s made of spells and words
Outlaw wizard Corcoran Gray has enough problems. He’s friendless, penniless and on the run from the tyrannical Mages’ Guild – and with the search for his imprisoned grandfather looking hopeless, his situation can’t get much worse. So when a fugitive drops into his lap – literally – and gets them both arrested, it’s the last straw – until Gray realises that runaway slave Brix could be the key to his grandfather’s release.
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3 / 5
Lord of Secrets was a deceptively simple story: a young man is searching for his captured grandfather. He is told to find a man and steal a relic from a temple. To be honest, it was very refreshing to read a book that had a clear direction. I’ve read way too many books that are needlessly complicated for the sake of surprising the reader.
Just like that, he strode out of the place that had been his prison for the better part of a millennium, up into the darkness
Corcoran Gray is an illegal mage. With a fake tattoo on his hand and a high ranking officer on his tail, Gray is on the search for his arrested, imprisoned, and probably tortured grandfather. He stumbles into a stable and finds a runaway slave girl – Brix – who ends up getting them both arrested. From there we have a breakout, a break in, and a fair chunk of temple-robbing as Gray tries to follow the clues that his grandfather has left him.
Like I said, the plot it good. Added into the mix was a pretty awesome magic system where spells must be painted onto a surface using runes and then spoken aloud. The catch? Spells burn through paper, skin, or whatever they are written on, and casting a spell takes a huge physical toll on the caster. Not only is Gray constantly in pain or about to throw up, but he also has a destroyed knee that he wears in a brace and is epileptic.
A leaky sod barn on the cold moors outside Fenwydd that did not contain twenty shitting goats was already a piece of luck. You can’t have everything
The characters were a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand I thought Corcoran was a solid guy with a load of baggage, insecurities, and chip on his shoulder. He is complex. He’s also twenty-six and this book is solidly in the realm of adult fantasy rather than YA. But my favourite character was Jaern, a living god and necromancer who was pretty twisted and got his flirt on a lot. On the flipside, side characters Brix and Lorican were pretty blank slates that felt pretty stale; Brix’s only ‘real’ features are her loyalty to her sister and her cool racial magical abilities (which weren’t explored enough).
Like the plot, the writing was also simple and clean. This is a very easy book to read and Corcoran is a solid narrator. I did raise my eyebrow a couple of times at some turns of phrase that I thought were totally out of place in a fantasy novel that wasn’t in a modern setting. The worst offender was probably “at the moment she was joshing me”. Joshing?? I’ve never heard anyone but twelve year old boys say joshing!
Overall, Lord of Secrets was an interesting and imaginative book. I definitely give it a lot of credit for the magic system and its elegant simplicity. But I think it could have done with a bit more polishing, fleshing out of characters, and the ending was a bit cringe.
My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of Lord of Secrets.