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Blood of Ambrose (Morlock Ambrosius #1)

3.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  706 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
Behind the king's life stands the menacing Protector, and beyond him lies the Protector's Shadow...

Centuries after the death of Uthar the Great, the throne of the Ontilian Empire lies vacant. The late emperor's brother-in-law and murderer, Lord Urdhven, appoints himself Protector to his nephew, young King Lathmar VII and sets out to kill anyone who stands between himself
Paperback, 401 pages
Published April 21st 2009 by Pyr (first published January 1st 2009)
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The Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussWarbreaker by Brandon SandersonFire by Kristin CashoreThe Gathering Storm by Robert JordanBest Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
2009 DGLA Fantasy Book Nominees
28th out of 64 books — 113 voters
Prince of Thorns by Mark  LawrenceThe Blade Itself by Joe AbercrombieA Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinKing of Thorns by Mark  LawrenceEmperor of Thorns by Mark  Lawrence
Best Grimdark
81st out of 107 books — 169 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,171)
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Sarah Avery
Jun 11, 2009 Sarah Avery rated it it was amazing
I've been enjoying Enge's short stories about Morlock the Maker in the pages of Black Gate since the first issue of my subscription. When I saw this book on the display table at my local bookstore, I let out an involuntary whoop of joy.

My husband and I both found this book un-put-downable, which was problematic, because we were both trying to read it at once. The book surprised us both, in some fairly impressive structural ways that I won't spoil for you. I am quite confident that, no matter who
Mike (the Paladin)
Dec 26, 2011 Mike (the Paladin) rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
For the first 30 or so pages I thought I was going to love this book...then I thought I could like the book...after that I thought I could probably endure this book. Finally, I skimmed forward to the point I just laid it aside.

This is another story built loosely (very, very loosely) on the rotting carcass of the Arthurian Legend. As a matter of fact at one point I'm sure I heard the bodies of Sir Thomas Malory and Alfred, Lord Tennyson whirring as they spun in their graves. Mostly don't even try
Nov 02, 2009 Miriam rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This book is engrossing, original, and uneven. Various parts epic adventure, humor, political intrigue, and horror, it veers unexpectedly from witty banter to cruelty to deep emotion. Set it the imaginary Ontilian Empire, it is possessed of a long and complex, if not always relevant, history. A few background characters are taken from Arthurian legend, but it is not not otherwise Arthurian and clearly does not occur on our earth (there are multiple moons, different continents, and it seems even ...more
Aug 19, 2014 Derek rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyable. It escalates from its start situation as various layers of the conflict are revealed, with each new threat being more weird and menacing. The relatively simple civil war between a young king and his self-appointed regent Protector gives way to a world-threatening villain.

The magic of Morlock Ambrose has solid metaphysics behind it, blending aspects of alchemy and mysticism in a way that the fantastic outcome always has a solid explanation: Morlock attracts a lightning strik
Jacob Proffitt
Nov 01, 2013 Jacob Proffitt rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
I really hated this book, but GoodReads saw fit to delete my actual review. Apparently, we aren't allowed to say that the book failed at being entertaining or that the actions of the characters came across as being a jumbled mishmash of what a nine year-old would consider cool...
Ranting Dragon
Aug 12, 2011 Ranting Dragon rated it really liked it
Shelves: michael
Blood of Ambrose is the debut novel from James Enge. Enge published numerous sword and sorcery short stories in Black Gate (a magazine which features adventure fantasy), focused on his central character Morlock Ambrosius, before producing this novel-length work. Blood of Ambrose attracted critical recognition and was nominated for the World Fantasy Award in 2010.

Nothing epic to see here
Blood of Ambrose opens with a very contained and superficially derivative story. Boy-king Lathmar, whose parent
Nov 24, 2013 Joseph rated it really liked it
The first novel about Morlock Ambrosius, although he doesn't actually appear onscreen for the first couple chapters. His sister Ambrosia is acting as advisor to the 12 year old King; politics ensues, but turns out to be merely a cover for dark magics. Morlock is a fascinating character -- old, hunchbacked, taciturn, but an accomplished swordsman and enchanter when called upon. The other characters (his sister; the little King; his dwarf apprentice; various others) are equally well-drawn, and the ...more
Nov 29, 2014 Barbara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
In a word this was patchy. The pacing was uneven, the tone veered wildly and there was a helluva lot of plot crammed into the one book, but I liked it.

It got off to a slow start. The character of the young king, Lathmar, was realistic but tiresome. Fortunately he grows up (a lot). I persevered in the beginning only because the author's sense of humour appealed to me. I'm glad I did because it really picks up and I found myself enjoying it. So much so I'll be getting the next book in the series.
Ed [Redacted]
Oct 02, 2012 Ed [Redacted] rated it liked it
This book has some pretty significant problems with pacing and characterization. Despite all that it was quite enjoyable in part, especially the end. This is Enge's first novel and it is very u even. Where it is bad it is pedestrian. Where it is good it is amazing. I will absolutely read on in this series but only in expectation of great things in the future from this author. Very raw talent but very talented author.
Hope Baugh
May 19, 2009 Hope Baugh rated it really liked it
The character development in this fantasy/horror novel was too choppy, and the juxtaposition of Merlin-y stuff with zombie stuff with stuff called "phlogiston" and "aethrium" just didn't all hang together well enough for me to give this book the full five stars. However, I really enjoyed reading it, and I will definitely be looking for Enge's next novel.
This was a strange one. There were things that I loved and things that didn't work at all. As a fantasy fan, I found the world building simple to understand and follow. The magic system was sometimes confusing as it was not a natural magic but more scientific. I did not enjoy this aspect as I am a magical purest. There was liberal use of zombies, not my favorites but it was very well done. If you are thinking about the Merlin world of Camelot, don't.

As with most fantasy, there is a generous cas
Apr 20, 2011 Rue rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like Morlock. This book was my introduction to James Enge's work, and the main reason I picked it up was because of the blurb's description of Morlock Ambrosius. He seemed like a compelling character, and this type of storyline is generally right up my alley.

The writing, unfortunately, was hard to get into, and although the plot was interesting enough to keep me turning pages for awhile, it was not particularly engaging. I feel like Enge was trying to accomplish too much in t
Rick Riordan
Nov 08, 2013 Rick Riordan rated it really liked it
This is a straightforward fantasy novel for a grownup audience. It’s set in a well-imagined fictional world where young Lathmar, the nominal king of the Ontil Empire, is facing a coup d’etat from his own Lord Protector, who is in league with some truly creepy dark forces. To the rescue comes Morlock Ambrosius, Lathmar’s great uncle, who is a centuries-old knight and magician from the Wardlands, accompanied by his faithful apprentice Wyrth the dwarf. Morlock is a wonderful character – powerful an ...more
Aug 04, 2015 Cindy rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2009
This book started off a little choppy a lot of the background isn't presented up front instead you have to read between the lines on a lot of things. As for the writing it's hard to get into but once you pick up on it it's a really good book.

The magic and magical background was a little confusing and hard to follow based on how it's written but overall it wasn't a drawback and it was an interesting read. I probably would not read it again though.
Maple Stew
Feb 22, 2014 Maple Stew rated it it was amazing
This book was marvelously oppressive and bleak. At the beginning, I did not expect it to turn much from a heroes' tale of kings and magic, for which I was eager, but soon became something more like a harrowing prayer for relief. The twists and turns were themselves intense, but it was mainly something about the literary style- not sure what- that pulled me in to the heads and hearts of the desperate heroes and unyielding victims and to feel the despair with them. Perhaps it was the fleet, unnoti ...more
May 12, 2012 Chompa rated it liked it
I've got mixed feelings on this one. I picked it up based on a short story that I absolutely loved. The story seems a bit drawn out, but also has a fairly unique plot. I'll probably read the next book.
M.A. Kropp
Sep 08, 2011 M.A. Kropp rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books
Twelve year old Lathmar VII is heir to the Empire of Ontil. Standing in his way is his Lord Protector and uncle, Urdhven, who wants the throne for himself. Urdhven has killed Lathmar's parents and many of the royal household, and Lathmar knows his own days are numbered. He is rescued by his ancestress, Ambrosia Viviana and her brother, Morlock Ambrosius. Together with Morlock's apprentice, the dwarf Wyrtheorn, they must not only defeat Urdhven, but also the dark magic force behind him to restore ...more
Nick Reys
Mar 23, 2012 Nick Reys rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, read-2012
I love booksales, but then again, who doesn’t? The reason I love them is because I can get a lot of books for little money. Some of the books I can find there are high on my wishlist, but others are books of authors I have never heard of and if it weren’t for their incredibly low price, I wouldn’t buy them. Blood Of Ambrose by James Enge is one of them. If it weren’t for the fact that it only cost me 1.50 euros, I wouldn’t have bothered to pick it up. But since it was that cheap, I figured it wo ...more
Jul 28, 2011 Paula rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, series
I've been quite fortunate recently in that my closest charity shop seems to get donations of science fiction and fantasy books I want to read, some of which then get recycled there by me once I'm done with them. This book is another from that source, an unexpectedly good example of the fantasy genre from a writer I hadn't previously heard of...

The basic premise of 'Blood of Ambrose' is that it's the story of two of the children of Merlin and Nimue, who are pretty nigh immortal and have a variety
Feb 15, 2013 Karissa rated it did not like it
Shelves: home-2013
Not as quick a read as I was hoping it would be. It took me about a month to read. But it's off my bookshelf so that's good. Right?

There were several funny moments, but for the most part I was bored. Pretty sure the dwarf was the best character in the whole book.

A story of Merlin's descendents plus some zombies thrown in the mix. A spirit that lost it's rightful place in the royal line is pissed and seeks revenge from his grandmother, the daughter of Merlin. The son of Merlin, Morlock, is more
Apr 16, 2012 Ixris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wish that I could adore Enge's writing style for being witty and clever, as he clearly does. But I can't. Every time the characters - main, supporting, good, evil, walk-ons, whatever - spend paragraph after paragraph cracking jokes and making puns at the worst possible times, I kind of wanted to light the book on fire. It just -went on- like that whenever things were getting too thick with plot. Made me want to bang my head against the wall.

In the end, though, I'm glad I stuck with it.
Aug 10, 2011 Kate rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The concept and characters of this book are far stronger than the writing and execution. Which is a pity, because the characters and concept are very, very promising.

The Empire is threatened twice - there's an internal threat, from the Protector who seeks to "protect" the country a little too well, arranging for the death of the Empress and stealing power from the very young King - as well as an external threat, from a mysterious "Shadow" that was bolstering the Protector. The first half of the
Chris Cangiano
Feb 07, 2014 Chris Cangiano rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Fast and humorous if not overly deep fantasy read. A young King's regent attempts to usurp the kingdom as his own, with the "help" of dark forces. It is up to the King's long-lived magical ancestor Ambrosia and her equally long-lived magical swordsman brother, Morlock, to reclaim the realm for the King and hopefully teach him what it means to be King in his own right. Certain authorial choices were a bit distracting (using the word "schlep" for example, or naming a character "Merlin" for another ...more
Sep 23, 2009 Mike rated it liked it
I believe that Blood of Ambrose is James Enge’s debut novel; though he was an established body of short fiction. As such about the first quarter of the book was a bit of a rocky start, at least for me, but I stuck with it and I’m very glad I did. Blood of Ambrose opens as King Lathmar flees his own palace to avoid his so-called Protector from there it follow his exploits as he attempts to regain his throne and then consolidate his power over the city of Ontil. It is a bit more than that since, a ...more
Oct 29, 2012 Angie rated it it was ok
It was a bit lethargic, but engaging enough to keep going. I think there's something very meta going on, wherein one of the bad creatures is this many-thing, and the characters in the book come off as a many-thing of the author's brain, in the sense that they all seem like an offshoot of the same person... like, he wants to be witty, so he spreads the wit diffusely without letting the characters be defined from each other.

So, you know, meh+?

Ok, I'm revising this- I had totally forgotten about on
May 14, 2012 Nicole rated it liked it
I'm not sure where to start or how to describe this book. I kinda felt like I got to know these characters through tumblr or facebook because I would get pieces of their personalities but not all of it at once and I was at a distance from them. It was interesting though. I felt like I did get to know them pretty well eventually.
The story line has plenty of actions but it's repetitive, but I think that's how real life is. A single issue may take time and time again to fix and it may become an iss
Stephanie Weippert
May 01, 2011 Stephanie Weippert rated it it was ok
The plot wasn't sure what it should focus on, saving the kingdom for the child king, retelling the Arthurian legends or the seriously dysfunctional interactions of Morlock and Ambrosia. Interesting ideas, like Ambrosia's twin living inside her are introduced, but not explored at all, and in the case of the twin inside, only used as a quick-and-dirty last minute rescue of the principals at the climax then disappears again.
The Arthurian references were a distraction from the plot for me. The time
Clay Kallam
May 01, 2010 Clay Kallam rated it really liked it
“Blood of Ambrose” (Pyr, $15.98, 400 pages) is the first in a series, and I have to say James Enge’s debut is one of the most enjoyable novels Iof 2009. There’s a slight hint of the gone but not forgotten David Eddings in Enge’s style, and that light touch shifts the tale of a young king and his cantankerous yet magically gifted relatives fighting a sorceror who eats souls from grim to only slightly dark – a welcome change in an age where the more blood the better, and the more pain and agony, a ...more
Kelly Flanagan
Aug 09, 2014 Kelly Flanagan rated it it was amazing
this is an exciting series. not what you expect but so much more . I'd never heard the stories about Merlin's family. Well the author took some of the stories of Merlin's son Morlock and his two sisters and reshaped them a bit to breathe new life into some wickedly good storytelling. Characters are crisp and deep; plots are nefarious and impossible to suss out before they play out. I really recommend this series to all fantasy fans and fans of speculative fiction
Mar 25, 2012 April rated it it was amazing
At first, I found this book mildly confusing.... it isn't earth... but is has some earth Arthurian mythos, but the characters and the story itself make up for it and allow you to accept that Merlin and Nimue walk(ed) this world and their children and descendants are a huge part of things. I would very much like to see more in this world, and perhaps more about the dwarves who, from the glimpse that you get through one lovable character, have an interesting culture.

Although some are odd and dist
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James Enge is the pseudonym of James M. Pfundstein, an American fantasy and sword and sorcery author. His best known work is the ongoing Morlock the Maker series. His first novel in the series, Blood of Ambrose, was nominated for the World Fantasy Award in 2010. His newest series, A Tournament of Shadows, tells the origin story of his famous character Morlock Ambrosius.

James M. Pfundstein has a Ph
More about James Enge...

Other Books in the Series

Morlock Ambrosius (3 books)
  • This Crooked Way (Morlock Ambrosius, #2)
  • The Wolf Age (Morlock Ambrosius, #3)

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