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The Enterprise of Death

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  638 ratings  ·  93 reviews
As the witch-pyres of the Spanish Inquisition blanket Renaissance Europe in a moral haze, a young African slave finds herself the unwilling apprentice of an ancient necromancer. Unfortunately, quitting his company proves even more hazardous than remaining his pupil when she is afflicted with a terrible curse. Yet salvation may lie in a mysterious tome her tutor has hidden ...more
ebook, 0 pages
Published March 24th 2011 by Orbit (first published January 1st 2011)
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So not only is our heroine a competent black woman, she's a competent gay black woman. She's also not the only gay or bisexual character in the book, and "alternate" sexuality is never portrayed as something weird or bad. Monique and Awa are probably the strongest characters in the entire book, and what's better is they don't wind up in a romance with each other. That's right, there are two lesbians in the book, but they're allowed to decide they're not romantically suited to one another and mov ...more
5 Stars

Enterprise of Death is my cup of tea. I loved it…I had so much fun reading and eating up every word. I will remember the heroine Awa for a long time, she is something else. Bullington has created a really cool, dark, dirty, and not very nice world, where 3 young people are kidnapped by a horrible necromancer. I was already a Jesse Bullington fan as I thoroughly enjoyed his first novel The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart which I read a couple of years ago. This book would be a better la
Bending The Bookshelf
I’d never heard of Jesse Bullington before stumbling across The Enterprise of Death, so I had the pleasure of entering into it with no expectations. To be honest, I’m not sure having heard of him previously (or having read The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart), would have made a lick of difference. This is the kind of book that beats you over the head, robs you of your expectations, and then forces you to watch as it tears those expectations to shreds, stomps upon them, and gleefully urinates ...more
Jesse Bullington's follow-up to his massively enjoyable first novel The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart has ambitions to a greater complexity and richer characterisation. To some extent he succeeds, but I reluctantly have to admit that it didn't entirely work for me. The book is a convoluted tale of lesbian necromancers, whores, soldiers and artists, set against a Europe in turmoil. The Inquisition is in full swing, but Luther has posted his paper and the enlightenment is stirring. Bullington ...more
Sean the Bookonaut
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is historical fantasy like I’ve never read before. When a ship wreck leaves teenagers Awa, a Moorish slave, Omorose, her harem girl master, and Halim, a eunuch, stranded on what is probably the Rock of Gibralter, they are found, imprisoned, and trained by a necromancer. His attendants- including his mistress- are animated corpses ranging from the recently dead to skeletons and they prevent any escape. In the end, only Awa is left alive as the necromancer’s protégé. He leaves her for ten yea ...more
Jesse Bullington's follow-up to The Sad Tale Of The Brothers Grossbart is just as energetic, muscular, horrific, violent, inventive, fast-paced and icky as his debut. What wrong-footed me slightly was the sympathetic lead characters when I had mentally braced myself for more in the way of entertainingly sociopathic monsters wreaking havoc on the innocent and the guilty and the spectacularly evil alike. Instead we get Awa, an ex-slave forced into an apprenticeship by a necromancer, as nasty a pie ...more
I loved this book to death!

I really enjoyed how uncomfortable this book made me feel and how I got to read about some truly different and difficult ideas. It was a truly mind expanding book, insofar as it put a whole slew of ideas in my head that I'd never encountered anywhere else before.

It's a very intellectually confronting book- hooray! Despite the generally grisly subject matter it's also a surprisingly tender book. I really came to love the main character, Awa, and I absolutely enjoyed r
It started brilliantly, then lost itself in a wash of emotional outpourings and muddled, confused and somehow unlikeable new characters. Book One was almost reminiscent of the Larry Niven Warlock series - fantasy that essentially creates the environment and the tools for a puzzle - and then leads you to the resolution of it using only those same rules. At its heart, its an intellectual exercise - how would we do this - and in Books Two and Three, The Enterprise of Death loses that focus.
How? H
Not done reading yet, but this dude needs to read Strunk and White. The overuse of adjectives is driving me crazy. Just a very immature writer, technically speaking. A little lazy and self indulgent, too. And only four chapters in!

Alright, so i finished it. The guy is a talented writer, or could be with a more discerning pen. The book was just unnecessarily crass. The main character was sort of weak, enough so that i didn't really care what happened to her.

It read too much like a deadwood episo
Wow, what a ride! I did not expect to enjoy this book near as much as I did. I've read all of Jesse Bullington's books now and have to say this was probably his best in my opinion. It has everything- war, death, the undead, romance, completely believable and tangible characters that you genuinely care for and much more. Despite the few uncomfortable issues the story deals with (which is what great books do) I genuinely loved this story and am sad that it's over. I highly recommend this book if y ...more
I blew through this book in 2-3 days. It was an amazing historical fantasy novel. The narrative voice and dialog are almost perfect and fit every character like a glove. The main protagonist's character arc is long and full of change, yet something that somehow seems "core" to her remains. I cared about what happened to her and the other two I would consider to be protagonists. They each had a unique voice and outlook that the author did a great job of "showing" rather than "telling" me. What vi ...more
Keri B.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I would give it a 4.5 or 4.7 stars if I could. I really only have three small critiques: 1) The story seemed to really lag in the middle while some characters are doing nothing but sleeping with prostitutes for several chapters and other characters are moping around, 2) A lot of the language and how perfectly okay several characters were regarding sexual preference was definitely historically inaccurate - a critique because it often made me forget this was not meant to be an alternative history ...more
I liked this book a lot! The protagonist was unlikely: plain name (Awa), homosexual, yet humble and motivated mainly by love and guilt over her mistakes she makes (out of love), or so it seemed to me. I liked that about her and it made her interesting to read about. Plus her friend Manuel was a great character as well, with his unorthodox marriage and his artistry. All of the characters, the good ones anyway, were so interesting that I couldn't help but want to be immersed in their world. Which, ...more
The Enterprise of Death is nothing if not original and engaging. Awa, a young African slave is taken, against her will, by an evil necromancer who teaches her just enough of his craft to use her for his own nefarious designs. When he leaves his body Awa is granted ten years after which he will return to inhabit her body with his spirit.

Awa teams up with a Dutch mercenary, who has an artistic side and a penchant for painting nudes, and a Dutch prostitute to find the talisman that will help her to
Nathan Simpson
This is probably the most interesting fantasy novel I've read on the topic of necromancy, and the first I've read by this author. I've a fair amount of knowledge on various occult/folklore topics, and it's clear that the author did his research both historically and "magically." The story follows a runaway Moorish slave in 16th century Europe as she attempts to free herself from the clutches of a mad necromancer who has taught her all she knows of the subject for sinister purposes of his own.

c2011. Now, I love fantasy and history and I readily admit that I must be a closet ghoul - but this book? Nah, no way, huh?? It has such good reviews which invegieled me into ordering the book in the first place. The plot didn't put me off but the style of writing was not to my taste. I really did not like the attempt at regional accents by means of apostrophes or misspelling - but that is a personal dislike of mine - I find it hard to pass such a sentence without sounding it out to get an idea ...more
(2011, Orbit Books) Jesse Bullington's The Enterprise of Death is a horrific romp through Medieval Europe during the Inquisition on the verge of the Protestant Reformation. This tale is sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes meaningful, and sometimes all of these things simultaneously. Awa is a young Moor and slave. Her company is captured, and she finds herself under the tutelage of a vicious necromancer. She learns his dark arts and becomes a necromancer, too. Her tutor places a curse on h ...more
This is an interesting book in many ways and i think that if you liked the author's debut - which I fast forwarded several times through and never found the entry point to make me read it more carefully, though I am not ready to drop it yet from the pile since I may once be just in the mood for it - you will like this more since the content is more unpredictable and the characters from Awa to Manuel and Monique are more interesting and less of a caricature, but I had two major issues with the bo ...more
Sissel Mangurten
Once again, Jesse Bullington produces a hilarious work of fiction, rife with historical curiosa and universal depravity.
Having finished The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart, I realised that I hadn't read anything as outright brutal since Blood Meridian. Needless to say, I was hooked. The Enterprise of Death is written in much the same style as The Brothers Grossbart, but the protagonist is decidedly more human and sympathetic.
Still, that doesn't prevent the book from being highly graphic. It
Lee Battersby
Starts off well, with a thunderous, graphic and stomach-churning opening that makes it very clear that you're not going to be reading a stereotypical soft-focus Medieval wish-fulfillment fantasy, but fails to maintain its power. The ending rises near to the level of the opening, but there is a long, flat period in the middle that simply goes on far too long, with far too little happening, and it quickly becomes clear that the author has run out of genuine surprises and is simply relying on shock ...more
Attention, livre à l'ambiance noire, très noire : l'impression d'une lecture morbide vous reste derrière les paupières longtemps après avoir refermé l'ouvrage. Paradoxalement c'est aussi un hymne à la vie, à l'amitié et à l'aventure. Une lecture fascinante, dérangeante dans le monde des nécromanciens. Le premier chapitre d'introduction avec Boabdil ne m'avait pas emballé, ni les traces de langage ordurier mais une fois que les "hommes d'os" viennent enlever notre future héroïne, Awa, on est plon ...more
Sam Woodward
After reading Bullington's retelling of the morally defunct Brothers Grossbart, I pre-ordered this without hesitation & counted the weeks until its arrival. Despite a level of excitement which reality often finds difficult to satisfy, The Enterprise Of Death effortlessly surpassed my eager expectations.

Take heed, oh reader, of the the quote on the cover (aptly from The Guardian), which warns us that this is "not for the faint hearted"! Forget blushing heroines & dashing heroes, Bullingto
The author does not pull any punches in this story about necromancy in the Renaissance. If it took place, it might very well look like this.

Burlington has a direct, frank style. It is more suitable to scenes, almost vignettes, than a linear, consistent plot. I suspect he is well aware of this, which would explain the weird jumps in time and location, even in a confusing chapter alternating paragraphs. It is a gimmick, but an acceptable one.

A refreshing book, read quickly and easily, specially
after i read the sad tale of the brothers grossbart, i swore i'd never read another of bullington's books. while the aforementioned book was well-written and had some interesting scenes, the overall grossness of the book, the gratuitous viscera, and the general juvenilia really put me off.

but i'm glad i don't always keep my promises, because the enterprise of death was a really good read. i probably would not have bought it but for the Big Idea piece on Scalzi's site (read it here), which really
This is one of those books I picked up thinking it was something else. It happens from time to time. I read a review somewhere of a book that was described as something along the lines of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" meets "Game of Thrones." That is the book I was looking for. This is not that book.

It is, however, a highly readable story that I finished faster than I thought I would. I've been reading a few books about necromancy lately. They do not, as a general rule, feature necrophilia. T
Marianne Last
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to. Yes, the plot has some structural issues, but that's forgivable because the overall story was enjoyable. I gave it 5 stars primarily for the characters themselves: Awa, the reluctant necromancer; Manuel, the painter-soldier; And particularly Monique, the sell-sword-turned-whore-house-madam. At first, I thought she was abrasive and off-putting, but as the book went on, I began loving her so so much. Not because she evolved into someone who's easi ...more
Thomas Baltes
Bullington's sophomore effort was in many ways, much better than his first novel "The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart", the character development was far more complex and complete as we see Awa develop from her state as an apprentice into the cunning and yet compassionate adult we see at the end of the novel. In terms of quality and background research Bullington is second to none, doing extensive research on all of his perspective subjects and filling in narrative voids, such as the chapters ...more
Aaron Ingram
The jacket is what originally caught my eye - an intriguing cover, an interesting title, and good quality binding all lead me to hope that this would be worth a read. But once again, I'm reminded that you can't judge a book by it's cover.

I had high hopes for this one. The jacket description promised something of a rollicking adventure. Necromancy, swords, muskets, some comedy, and more! However, what was contained therein fell quite flat. Far too long with little or no pay-off, I wouldn't recom
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Author. Dream Weaver. Visionary. Plus Actor. So long as you're cool with discovering just how dull I really am, I welcome adds here, on FB, LJ etc.

My novels The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart and The Enterprise of Death are available in a variety of languages. I have it on admittedly shaky authority that they are charming. My third novel, The Folly of the World, will be released in December of
More about Jesse Bullington...
The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart The Folly of the World Letters to Lovecraft Danse Macabre Four Seasons in The Floating World (Jurassic Gold Medal)

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“Where are you going?"
"Home," Awa said numbly, getting up and pushing open the door.
"As the devil told the sinner," the necromancer called after her, "you ARE home.”
More quotes…