The Wizard Hunters: Never quite lives up to its promise

book review Martha Wells The Wizard HuntersThe Wizard Hunters by Martha Wells

The Wizard Hunters has a great opening line. Unfortunately, it never quite lives up to the promise so tantalizingly held out to us. The good news is the character we meet in that first line, Tremaine, holds up well throughout the book. In general, the characterization is one of the book’s stronger points. The story premise is also a highlight, offering up an unusual meshing of cultures — one with magic and science/technology working side by side, another where technology has yet to form and magic is evil, and yet a third (the Gardier), set on invading the first two through a malevolent combination of science and magic.
The side-by-side use of modern technology and magic adds a welcome freshness to the fantasy, as does the conflict between two cultures, one employing magic and one fearing it, that seemingly must unite to face a common foe. That conflict and alliance is played out on a small scale in The Wizard Hunters, focusing on a small band of characters thrown together into hostile territory.

As mentioned, characterization is strong throughout and the main character is especially well-drawn and an enjoyable presence. A few characters could use some more depth, as could the entire Gardier, a weakness Wells addresses in the next book (The Ships of Air).
The major flaws in Hunters belong to the plot. It is at times a bit repetitive, but the smooth flow, often breezy tone, and likeable characters make this a relatively minor fault. A larger one is the overreliance on deus ex machina (literally) through Tremaine’s use of the mysterious sphere given to her as a child. It too often pops out just when needed, lessening the sense of tension at some of the more climatic moments. Happily, this happens much less in the sequel which is overall I think a better book.

The Wizard Hunters is a solid start to an interesting set-up and if the improvement between the first and second book is any sign, the series should only get better. A solid recommendation with a nod to the idea of reading ahead to the next book.

The Ile-Rien Stories — (1993-2005) The last three books are known collectively as The Fall of Ile-Rien. Publisher: The kingdom of Ile-Rien is in peril, menaced by magical threats and court intrigue. As the weak King Roland, misled by treacherous companions, rules the country, only his ruthless mother, the Dowager Queen Ravenna, truly guards the safety of the realm. But now Urbain Grandier, the dark master of scientific sorcery, has arrived to plot against the throne and Kade, bastard sister of the king, has appeared unexpectedly at court. The illegitimate daughter of the old king and the Queen of Air and Darkness herself, Kade’s true goals are cloaked in mystery. Is she in league with the wizard Grandier? Or is she laying claim to the throne? It falls to Thomas Boniface, Captain of the Queen’s Guard and Ravenna’s former lover, to sort out who is friend, who is foe in a deadly game to keep the Dowager Queen and the kingdom she loves from harm.

Martha Wells fantasy book reviews The Ile-Rien Stories: 1. The Element of Fire 2. The Death of the Necromancer 3. The Wizard Hunters 4. The Ships of Air 5. The Gate of GodsMartha Wells fantasy book reviews The Ile-Rien Stories: 1. The Element of Fire 2. The Death of the Necromancer 3. The Wizard Hunters 4. The Ships of Air 5. The Gate of GodsMartha Wells fantasy book reviews The Ile-Rien Stories: 1. The Element of Fire 2. The Death of the Necromancer 3. The Wizard Hunters 4. The Ships of Air 5. The Gate of GodsMartha Wells fantasy book reviews The Ile-Rien Stories: 1. The Element of Fire 2. The Death of the Necromancer 3. The Wizard Hunters 4. The Ships of Air 5. The Gate of GodsMartha Wells fantasy book reviews The Ile-Rien Stories: 1. The Element of Fire 2. The Death of the Necromancer 3. The Wizard Hunters 4. The Ships of Air 5. The Gate of Gods


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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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