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The Death of the Necromancer (Ile-Rien #2)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  2,037 Ratings  ·  179 Reviews
Nicholas Valiarde is a passionate, embittered nobleman with an enigmatic past. Consumed by thoughts of vengeance, he is consoled only by thoughts of the beautiful, dangerous Madeline. He is also the greatest thief in all of Ile-Rien... On the gas light streets of the city, he assumes the guise of a master criminal, stealing jewels from wealthy nobles to finance his quest f ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published July 1st 1999 by Eos (first published July 1st 1998)
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Community Reviews

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Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of supernatural mystery
Delightful. The Lies of Locke Lamora co-ops The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

The book blurb doesn’t have it quite right: “Nicholas Valiarde is a passionate, embittered nobleman with an enigmatic past. Consumed by thoughts of vengeance, he is consoled only by thoughts of the beautiful, dangerous Madeline. He is also the greatest thief in all of Ile-Rien…”

No, no, no. Nicholas Valiarde is a classic comic-book dark hero. He has a secret persona; to the respectable world he is the adopted son of a
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
4.5 stars. The first Ile-Rien book was fine, an entertaining fantasy story, but this one is on another level of sophistication. Compelling characters, the right amount of tension, lavish descriptions, complex relationships, clever world-building, mature romance just hinted at, top-notch storytelling and a hard-to-crack mystery.

Absolutely recommended. This story shares the Ile-Rien setting but it stands perfectly alone; there are a few spoilers about the previous book, so if you plan to read the
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Death of the Necromancer is a triumph of execution over concept. This is not a bad thing. It may, in fact, be a very good thing.

What do I mean by this?

Essentially, if you look at the basic concepts of the book, you will not find anything terribly special. The characters are familiar archetypes -- the vengeance-obsessed conman, his plucky female companion, his loyal and taciturn henchman. We've even got Holmes and Watson running around. The plot is a fairly straightforward mystery as well, mo
Nov 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any fantasy lover
Recommended to Jennifer by: My mother
This is the first of Martha Wells' books that I read; it is still my favorite, although I love everything that she's written. The book is set in Ile-Rien, a world similar to Victorian England, although with the addition of magic. Wells brings the setting to life, making it a character in itself; however, the plot and the characters more than live up to it.
The plot centers around Nicholas Valiarde, who has spent the past twenty years attempting to destroy the man responsible for the unjust exe
So take a Sherlock Holmes mystery, change the names, add magic. Holmes and Watson are currently investigating a recent rash of disappearances, while having a long-term goal of gathering enough evidence to bring Moriarty down.

Tell the story from the viewpoint of a character who is halfway between Holmes and Moriarty, and considers himself an enemy of both. Then waylay everyone's schemes with a necromancer.

Nicholas is out for revenge for the death of his mentor, and has set himself up as a master
Mar 09, 2017 added it
DNF. Nothing to do with the book. Just wasn't in the mood for it. Might return to later.
Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorite, mystery
Now available for free online reading!
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
Possible minor spoilage through. Major spoilers behind tags.


There's nothing particularly wrong with this story, but I never really got caught up into it. I don't know if it was the writing style, the meh characters, or what, but I never clicked with the characters and, by extension, was never fully engaged in what was going on.

And it's not the anti-hero or revenge plot aspect or anything, because I can quite get behind both of those. It's... ugh... I don't know...

Let's start with Nicholas.
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, fantasy-scifi
Wake the living dead! Vivisection, resurrection, and insurrection. Political intrigue via golems and hedge witches, science and sorcerers, magical trees (a lá Hogwarts), and steampunk-ish spheres melding magic and technology. There's Unsealie Court Dark Fey and cute garden fairies, too (but not a dragon in sight).

It's captivating, somewhat heartwarming, fast-paced and coherent. The plot is set mostly in a fantastical rendition of old world London and Vienna. The good guys are a band of thieves,
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-readable, fantasy
This is my favourite Martha Wells book, though I do enjoy everything she's written. Honestly, this is the only book that I will probably write a 'review' for.

An entire gang of intelligent anti-heroes that are both delightfully nefarious but at odds with an even shadier power in the great city of Ile-Rien.
Apr 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Excellent characters and dialogue, devious plot. It's a heck of an adventure fantasy of manners of a particular city.
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So, I am now officially one of Martha Wells's fans.

That statement will stand for a review.
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If the Count of Monte Cristo took place in the Victorian era and Dantes' plan for revenge was interrupted by an evil wizard that Dantes has to deal with all the while being pursued by Sherlock Holmes. Fun!
Scott Firestone
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found The Element of Fire, the first book in the Ile-Rien series, to be a decent, if unremarkable read. But I'd heard that this second book in the series is better, and that's absolutely true.

Nicholas Valiarde is seeking revenge on the man he believes framed his father--a framing that led to his father's death. As Valiarde and his band of merry/morbid men (and a woman) are launching yet another attempt at revenge, they stumble upon a mystery. People are dying in the city, and all clues lead t
Olga Godim
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
On an intellectual level, this novel is engaging and unusual for a fantasy. The plot unravels not in a somewhat-medieval world, as is almost a staple of the genre, but in a place and time that resonate heavily with Victorian London of Sherlock Holmes, although the geographic names are all imaginary. In that quasi-19th century, telegrams and steam trains coincide with sorcery (legal) and necromancy (illegal), and magically animated stone gargoyles kill people under the gas light.
The protagonist
I'm finally finished with this book!

And I think that statement, in some ways, sums up my opinion of it quite well. This book was enjoyable and intriguing enough to keep me reading it, but not enough to make me really read it. It's reading time was largely relegated to times I was waiting and/or travelling, until I realised I started it about two and a half months ago which is far too long to be spending on any book.

Nicholas Valiarde is out for revenge after his step-father was falsely executed f
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read this book at the behest of my wife, who was looking for a less biased eye to ensure that her own view of the book wasn't tainted by external circumstance. This type of historical mystery/horror story isn't my usual faire - I tend to avoid mystery in general, but this book is rather light on the procedural mystery aspect (which works to its favor more than it detracts, in my view).

I found the characters to be the best part of it, save those secondary characters whose connection to the main
Danielle Ste. Just
I love this novel and consider it as one of my all-time favorites. It's the perfect blend of fantasy, detective thriller, horror and romantic tone.

Since I dislike spoilers in reviews, and I also consider this book to be quite original in content, I will not speak about the plot or the characters, but of how they affected me as a reader.

This novel will immerse you in a world which is just enough like ours to not be too distracting, yet unlike enough to be constantly fresh and inventive.

The charac
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I recently purchased a number of Martha Wells ebooks on steep discount at Amazon - I wasn't particularly familiar with her, but several had intelligent, thoughtful positive reviews so, at a buck or two a book, seemed worth a shot. So far I've been pleasantly rewarded - the ones I've read to date have all been at least adequate. This one, Death of a Necromancer (rather horrendous name aside) was quite good (and nominated for a Nebula award) - a well-written and plotted Holmesian detective novel s ...more
Carlos Gil Denia
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Una mezcla interesante de misterio con fantasía, metiendo a personajes inspirados en Sherlock Holmes, Watson, y posiblemente Lupin, en una ciudad inspirada en Paris, pero con sus magos y nigromantes por ahí sueltos.
Como un buen libro de misterio, tarda un poco en arrancar con la acción, porque todos los personajes van varios pasos por detrás del rival, pero cuando las cosas empiezan a moverse, lo hacen bien, con sus sorpresas, sus planes dentro de planes y todo lo esperable.
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
What a strange little hybrid this was! An outstanding book that feels like a murder mystery, a period piece, and a high fantasy all at once. Intricate and oblique. One of the few books that I literally reread as soon as I finished that last page. And it was just as good the second time. Also intimately connected to the Ile-Rien trilogy that occurs something like 30 years after Death ends. Read'em all.
Rachel Neumeier
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If Javert and Jean Valjean joined forces against Thenardier? And Thenardier was actually the servant of the Devil?

This would be that book.

(Well, also, if Valjean were a master criminal and Javert not quite so rigid.)
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
" I think you'll do anything for curiosity's sake.!
"I'm trying to establish foundation for a hypothesis."
"You're curious."
"That's what I said."

About two thirds into the book Nicholas, the main character, gets in a situation that looks really bad. My immediate reaction to that was Ugh. No.. I wasn't particularly worried about Nicholas or any of his friends. They had, so far, gotten into a lot of trouble and out again without any losses. Besides, I didn't care enough about him or any of the others
To say it with goodreads, "it was ok" but I can't say that I "liked it".

I feel bad rating this so low because of all the research that probably went into it. I'm sure someone whose hugely into pseudo Victorian settings and loves all the trappings and archetypes associated with that type of fiction is going to enjoy this book way more than I did. But none of these things are for me and I need to stop trying.

One could argue that The Element of Fire was more of a cliché-fest than this one, but tho
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a tightly crafted, beautifully written book. It is rich with historic detail and vivid setting, and the premise is engaging and kept me going through the whole read. I would like to read more of her books, though I didn't quite fall in love with this one. I think where the book could be improved is in the characters. They're realistic and well drawn but their passions remain hidden, for the most part, and so there's never quite an emotional connection. There was one point, about sixty pe ...more
Nicole Luiken
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, heist, sf-fantasy
In the same world as The Element of Fire, but a hundred years later with different characters. Starts off as a heist-and-revenge novel, but the stakes soon go up dramatically and it's only in the last chapter that we swing back around to the revenge plot. Interesting magic and lots of twists and turns. I was especially impressed by an eavesdropping scene--these are usually authorial conveniences, a way to have a character learn something--but this one was very tense.
While The Death of the Necromancer is set in the same world as a prior novel by Martha Wells, it stands alone and I had no problems reading it independently of the other book. I am so glad I did read this one – The Death of the Necromancer is a wonderfully evocative gaslight fantasy novel set in another world with a time period reminiscent of the late 1800s.

Nicholas Valiarde is a nobleman who by night will assume the disguise of a master thief. He’s focused on vengeance for his late mentor, who
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, mystery
4 - 4,5 stars

It took me a while to get into the book because it was very different from The City of Bones which I've read previously. But, just like Kath & Co., Nicholas & Co. pulled me into the story and didn't let me go until the end. This story is part Sherlock Holmes, part Indiana Jones, part Count of Monte Cristo, set in a country resembling Victorian England with magic. The book has that special feel of innocence of above-mentioned books/movies that makes you sit back and enjoy you
Nina Ivanova
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, adventure, magic
(омг, намерих си ревюто отпреди 5 години! Трябва да я препрочета :3 )

This one was the first book of Martha Wells I read, now I'm desperately searching for another ones. I will simply state I love it, and Nicholas is one of my biggest book loves.
The atmosphere of the book is very rich and deep, something I search for and highly appreciate when I read a fantasy book. Every one of the characters was amazing to me, starting with Nicholas. He is far from perfect, he's not the smartest, strongest, nor
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
My first Martha Wells, but certainly not my last.

I admit to being confused in the beginning as there appeared to be a lot of backstory and I was wondering if I had skipped a book or two (answer: no), but by the time I reached the halfway mark, I was completely engrossed and finished the whole book in one sitting. It’s a whodunnit that kept me guessing all the way through, complete with an action-packed ending. Plus some very intriguing (and fully developed) secondary characters that I really wa
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Martha Wells has written many fantasy novels, including The Books of the Raksura series (beginning with The Cloud Roads), the Ile-Rien series (including The Death of the Necromancer) as well as YA fantasy novels, short stories, media tie-ins (for Star Wars and Stargate: Atlantis), and non-fiction. Her most recent fantasy novels are The Edge of Worlds in 2016 and The Harbors of the Sun in 2017, th ...more
More about Martha Wells

Other books in the series

Ile-Rien (5 books)
  • The Element of Fire (Ile-Rien, #1)
  • The Wizard Hunters (The Fall of Ile-Rien, #1)
  • The Ships of Air (The Fall of Ile-Rien, #2)
  • The Gate of Gods (The Fall of Ile-Rien, #3)
“Octave staggered to his feet, his stick swinging back to point toward Nicholas. He felt a wave of heat and saw spellfire crackle along the length of polished wood, preparing itself for another explosive burst. Crack was moving toward Octave, but Madeline shouted, "Get back!"

Nicholas ducked, as a shot exploded behind him. Octave fell backward on the carpet and the blue lightning flared once and vanished with a sharp crackle.

Nicholas looked at Madeline. She stepped forward, holding a small double-action revolver carefully and frowning down at the corpse. He said, "I wondered what you were waiting for."

"You were in my line of fire, dear," she said, preoccupied. "But look.”
“I have a plan.” This was true. “I just don’t know whether it will actually work or not.” This, unfortunately, was also true.” 1 likes
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