The Malevolant Seven by Sebastien de Castell @decastell @JoFletcherBooks @SnyderBridge4

Posted May 15, 2023 by Robin in Book Review / 13 Comments

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Malevolant Seven by Sebastien de Castell @decastell @JoFletcherBooks @SnyderBridge4The Malevolent Seven by Sebastien De Castell
on May 16, 2023
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 395
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Seven powerful mages want to make the world a better place. We're going to kill them first.'

Picture a wizard. Go ahead, close your eyes. There he is, see? Skinny old guy with a long straggly beard. No doubt he's wearing iridescent silk robes that couldn't protect his frail body from a light breeze. The hat's a must, too, right? Big, floppy thing, covered in esoteric symbols that would instantly show every other mage where this one gets his magic? Wouldn't want a simple steel helmet or something that might, you know, protect the part of him most needed for conjuring magical forces from being bashed in with a mace (or pretty much any household object).

Now open your eyes and let me show you what a real war mage looks like . . . but be you're probably not going to like it, because we're violent, angry, dangerously broken people who sell our skills to the highest bidder and be damned to any moral or ethical considerations.

At least, until such irritating concepts as friendship and the end of the world get in the way.

My name is Cade Ombra, and though I currently make my living as a mercenary wonderist, I used to have a far more noble-sounding job title - until I discovered the people I worked for weren't quite as noble as I'd believed. Now I'm on the run and my only friend, a homicidal thunder mage, has invited me to join him on a suicide mission against the seven deadliest mages on the continent.

Time to recruit some very bad people to help us on this job . . .

Usually I like to root for the good guys, the noble heroes questing for a righteous purpose against all odds.  This is not a root for the heroes book though, this is grimdark where the characters are complicated, cruel and there is no HEA guaranteed.  The Malevolant Seven is a band of mercenaries, in it for the money and power, but mostly money.  For sell to the highest bidder and no job is too dirty if the price is right, no matter how much it might stain your soul.

I’ve read Sebastien de Castell before so I knew the writing was going to be great and the story surprising.  He has a great sense of humor and tension in his writing style that lent itself well to this book.  Just read the synopsis and you will have a good idea of how great his writing will be throughout the story.

It wasn’t Archon Belleda’s fault her defenders couldn’t beat us. They were locals, patriots fighting for a noble cause, while we were mercenaries, motivated by greed and lousy upbringings, loyal only to the fees our employer had promised us.

The PoV is from Cade Ombre, a man not totally at peace with being a mercenary, but he is also definitely not a good guy either, well at least anymore.  He has one, mostly true friend, in a thundermage but other than that everyone else has been just someone to work with for the money.  His last job has just gone incredibly wrong so time to pack up an move onto the next one.  He will just need to find the rest of a team to go up against the seven strongest mages ever known on a quest that seems like the worst idea ever, but could be the one to save him if the prize is as good as it is claimed to be.

Just need to pick up a new crew along the way (the last crew didn’t turn out so good) and off he goes to probable certain death.  There is a lot more to it than that of course.  There is a battle waging between good and evil (you decide which is which) that is ramping up and Cade and his crew might just be puppets for one side or both.  In our travels to gather a team we learn of Cade’s past, pick up an understanding of the world and magic in it and come to understand that good and evil is very subjective depending on your perspective.

I was captivated by the writing in this book.  It is dark and the humor is also dark sometimes, but fun none the less.  I enjoyed the journey Cade and crew took.  It was full of surprises and betrayals.  I will not say we get a HEA because well we do not, but the conclusion is satisfying and at the end I was hoping for more journeys with the crew assembled/left.

This would be a great book to try out Sebastien de Castell’s writing to see if it is for you.  Great story with interesting, unpredictable complex characters.  A story of good, evil and all things in-between.  Full of strange friendships, journeys for redemptions and a quest that might just save humanity, accidentally of coarse.

Every profession has its traditions, and among us wonderists, it’s basic courtesy to say something rude and hurtful to each of your comrades before heading into battle. The logic – if there is such a thing in this sorry business – is that since such despicable insults could never be intended as last words, they instead convey your conviction that both of you will survive to laugh at such ill-chosen sentiment .


Rating Breakdown
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Posted May 15, 2023 by Robin in Book Review / 13 Comments

13 responses to “The Malevolant Seven by Sebastien de Castell