Book – Lord of Secrets by Brenna Teintze
Brief disclaimer, I received an ARC of this from Jo Fletcher books in exchange for an honest review. I hadn’t heard of it before, but I love giving new books a go so I requested one and was really pleased when I received it.
I am going to try a new format for this review and if I like it I may use it going forward. I have found that writing up my full and spoilery opinion on TV shows and films has been much easier and more fun to write, so I am going to split my reviews in two going forward. The start will be a spoiler free brief description of the plot and some thoughts, then I will go into a more detailed plot summary and spoiler review for those who have either read the book or don’t mind spoilers.
The second part will be as clearly marked as I can make it so those who don’t want the spoiler review can skip it until they have read the book for themselves.
No Spoiler Review
The story follows a man called Corcoran Grey, a mage who isn’t part of the guild that all mages are supposed to follow. He meets up with Brix, a slave woman on the run from the priesthood and together they team up as he needs her knowledge to break into a temple in order to try and help his Grandfather, who has been arrested by the mages. Things don’t quite go according to plan of course and now they must deal with conflicting loyalties, necromancy and whole lot of powerful people hunting them.
Firstly I have to say that the magic system in this story is absolutely fantastic as a premise. Basically magic is poisonous to the user so most mages try and push that poison into other people so it doesn’t hurt them. All spells need to be written on something, or someone so some mages tattoo spells onto their skin, others use members of a race who seem to be immune to the poison and mark their spells on them instead.
Honestly it was such a refreshing idea and I really enjoyed learning how it works and what impact it had on the world. There were a couple of areas which felt a little convenient or inconsistent, but overall I rank it highly.
In regards to the story, the fact that the main character had a long-term knee injury which causes him pain and difficulties almost made me cry. As someone who has severe cartiledge damage in both her knees and often has to deal with pain and mobility issues, getting to see something of that in the hero of a fantasy book meant a great deal to me.
I also loved that the female character had her own goals and motivations that were completely separate from the main character, that can be pretty rare so it was good to see. I do wish that there were more female characters in the book though, I can’t see any real reason why so many of them were male and that was a frustrating detail to me.
The main character is also complicated, not dealing well with his emotions or trusting others and as such felt quite real to me in many ways. I also liked that he wasn’t the usual sort of hero you get, not able to just solve problems with physical strength and needed to be careful with magic as well due to the whole poison issue.
Overall I did enjoy it though not as much as I would have liked, I had some issues with how the story developed that I won’t go into in this section as that would contain spoilers.
The next section contains spoilers so should be hidden below.
A fuller explanation of the plot is that Corcoran and Brix have to break into a temple for him to recover an artefact that his Grandfather sent him to retrieve and keep safe. He, on the other hand, thinks he may be able to use this item to get his Grandfather back from the mages guild who have kidnapped him.
The two of them start growing closer and Corcoran discovers that she is a member of a race who can absorb the poisons of magic, though he deliberately does not try and use her in that way, given that it has happened to her too much before.
In the temple Corcoran discovers a man trapped in a circle and helps to free him by drinking a vessel that apparently holds the man’s soul. He bears the same name as the god of the temple and says he can tell Corcoran how the artefact works if he puts it all back together, though for the moment it seems that the eyes are missing and that his Grandfather took them. The God also fixes Corcoran’s knee, something that he believed was impossible.
Just as he and Brix are getting together he finds out that she has betrayed him to the mage who captured his Grandfather and has been hunting him. He knows why, she is trying to get her own sister back who is still enslaved, but it still hurts him deeply. She took the artefact, though it is missing one of the eyes (those having been recovered at his Grandfather’s house) as he kept one aside in case of any issues.
He goes after her though, along with the god and a friend of his, determined to get the artefact back and then try and help his Grandfather still. He recovers Brix in a slavers camp, expecting to find the artefact, but is betrayed by the God who kills the slavers and turns them into his army and marches on the Guild.
Corcoran, with his knee having been returned to its former state by the God, goes after him with Brix, both of them flying to the city and trying to persuade the Mages that they are going to be attacked soon, though the mages do not listen.
In the end Corcoran realises the only way to stop the God is to kill himself since his soul is tied to Corcoran himself. His Grandfather then brings him back by using the now vacated body that the God had previously created for himself.
Right, now that the more detailed explanation of the plot is given (though I still missed out a lot) I can explain more about my feelings. A lot of this is more negative, but that’s more to do with the fact that my dislikes were to do with spoiler section rather than anything else.
Firstly, I didn’t like how easily the knee issue was removed as a problem. I was so pleased to have a character with a similar disability to mine so having it just solved fairly early into the book really pissed me off. Sure, it gets reversed towards the end, but that still means the character spends most of the story being able to act normally and that annoyed me. I really wanted to see how he dealt with what was happening whilst having the disability so that was really frustrating. In the end he gets moved into a shiny body which is all perfect and that just compounded the problem for me. Please don’t give me a disabled character and then remove that disability entirely, it’s cheap and upsetting.
I had a minor annoyance in the romance, not that there was one, but because of the speed of what happens in the book I didn’t like that they ended up together at the end of it. This is just a personal twitch of mine though and has a lot to do with how I think about relationships so likely it will be fine for most other people.
So overall it’s a decent enough book, the story is interesting enough to keep you going and there are some excellent characters in it too. There are some things, such as the disability issue I mentioned above, that I wish were handled better but I may well continue reading the series in the future and it’s certainly not exactly your normal standard fantasy book, which is a definite point in its favour.