Shadow of a Dead God by Patrick Samphire
It was only supposed to be one little job – a simple curse-breaking for Mennik Thorn to pay back a favour to his oldest friend. But then it all blew up in his face - literally. Now he’s been framed for a murder he didn’t commit.
So how is a second-rate mage, broke, traumatized, and with a habit of annoying the wrong people, supposed to prove his innocence when everyone believes he’s guilty?
Mennik has no choice if he wants to get out of this: he is going to have to throw himself into the corrupt world of the city’s high mages, a world he fled years ago. Faced by supernatural beasts, the mage-killing Ash Guard, and a ruthless, unknown adversary, it’s going to take every trick Mennik can summon just to keep him and his friend alive.
But a new, dark power is rising in Agatos, and all that stands in its way is one damaged mage…
Third place in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2020 (SPFBO6)
Finalist in the Book Bloggers' Book of the Year Award (BBNYA) 2021
Shortlisted for the Booknest Fantasy Award Best Self-published Novel 2020
This is a book that I should have reviewed far earlier than I am now. I read it quite a while ago as part of the BBNYA 2021, but have only just managed to review it.
Shadow of a Dead God is a unique hybridisation of an Urban fantasy, set in an epic fantasy setting with some detective noir, and I must say it works exceptionally well.
The story revolves around down at heel, wizard for hire Mennick Thorn. As the book opens we follow Mennick as he is attempting to get to the bottom of a haunting in the posh district of town. He is then roped into a supposedly easy robbery by his best friend Benny. However, things don't work as planned (do they ever?) and we end up with a dead body. Well, totally eviscerated body that seems to have been attacked by some kind of gigantic wild beast.
Suspicion falls upon Mennick & Benny. However, it soon becomes clear that they have both been set up. Thus ensues an adventurous investigation into who set the couple up and why.
I have to say that I found this book instantly likeable and summarily voted for this book to be one of the finalists in the BBNYA (I can say that now as there is a new competition coming up and I am not breaking any judging rules now). One of the aspects of the book that I found really endearing was the world building. Like I said, I felt that it was a like an urban fantasy, but set in a secondary world and it gives a sense of individuality.
In addition to that, the magic system (which I am sure that you will have read in other reviews of the book) is quite original as it revolves around magic users being able to use the energy given off the dead gods to create magic.
However, the strength of the book lies in Patrick Samphire's writing and his ability to create such endearing characters. Mennick Thorn is a great character, although he is not that good a wizard. However, due to his inability, he is inventive with how he does things and will constantly be using his wit and skill rather than magical brawn. Benny is your typical thief and plays a good comedic support to Mennick's straight man. However, it is Sereh, the sociopathic ten year old, assassin in the making, who shines through as a standout character and literally steals the page whenever she makes an appearance!
As I said earlier, the book is written exceptionally well and has that brilliant mix of comedy, adventure and heart. The pace initially builds up the book, but that gives us some breathing space to set the story up and describe the backdrop that the story is set in. It's when the story reaches its full pace that you are unable to put the book down. The book has that brilliant combination of murder mystery and adventure that keeps you reading right till the end.