Hello, and welcome to (hopefully) the first of several ARC reviews to feature here this summer! I’m kicking off with a really good one, so grab an iced drink, grab a fan, and come and chill out while I geek out about Lord of Secrets by Breanna Teintze!
Magic is poison. Secrets are power. Death is . . . complicated.
Outlaw wizard Corcoran Gray has enough problems. He’s friendless, penniless and on the run from the tyrannical Mages’ Guild – and with the search for his imprisoned grandfather looking hopeless, his situation can’t get much worse.
So when a fugitive drops into his lap – literally – and gets them both arrested, it’s the last straw – until Gray realises that runaway slave Brix could be the key to his grandfather’s release. All he has to do is break out of prison, break into an ancient underground temple and avoid killing himself with his own magic in the process.
In theory, it’s simple enough. But as secrets unfold and loyalties shift, Gray discovers something with the power to change the nature of life and death itself.
Now Gray must find a way to protect the people he loves, but it could cost him everything, even his soul …
This book had me at “outlaw wizard”. It kept me with the sort of magic system I haven’t seen done a hundred times, and by the time we got to the necromancy, the god-like beings and the caves full of riddles and traps, I was pretty well hooked.
And that’s before we even get to the relationships that grow – and change – along the way. Worldbuilding doesn’t mean very much without characters worth populating that world with. Corcoran Gray is clever, intelligent, and often grumpy as hell – and, when you’re a talented wizard whose method of spell-casting can kill you if you push it too hard, you’re on a life-or-death quest and you’re not very good at making friends, “grumpy as hell” is probably perfectly understandable. But the friends he makes here are the challenging sort, and a good thing it is too.
Brix and Lorican have their own stories to tell, and for a book with a relatively short page count, they get enough time to shine without overtaking the plot. I even sort of fell for the antagonist, even though he was clearly Trouble; his story hooked me just as much as the others. It’s a good thing that this is only the first book of a series, though, because I want MORE time with all of them! So here’s my declaration of support for continuation of this series. *Waves flag*
Now, if I can put on my Almost Critical Hat for a second – all these disparate story elements might seem like a lot to chew on, but they come together well. How an author handles the weaving of their various plot threads and character elements is just as important as how immediately impressive those elements are on their own, and Breanna Teintze shows a skilful hand here. This is definitely an impressive effort for a debut, and I’ll be watching for the next adventures of Corcoran Gray and friends.
This is an ARC review so I don’t want to flail too much about all the delightful details, but rest assured I am thoroughly recommending this book! If you like queer representation, grumpy badass wizards who make clever friends despite themselves, puzzles and traps and riddles and necromancy all tangled up together into a big old ball of deadly fun, then give Lord of Secrets a try. I don’t think you’ll be sorry.
Go on. I’m done here, get reading.