The world of Prince Martris Drayke is thrown into sudden chaos when his brother murders their father and seizes the throne. Forced to flee, with only a handful of loyal colleagues to support him, Martris must seek retribution and restore his father’s honor. But if the living are arrayed against him, Martris must learn to harness his burgeoning magical powers to call on a different set of allies: the ranks of the dead.
This fantasy tale, released in 2007, is a solidly crafted piece of work in a highly recognisable world. The hero, Tris, is suitably likeable and upset after the death of his family. His companions include a hardened mercenary who is also loyal; a boyhood friend who becomes increasingly nervous at his increasing power; a court bard and in amongst their adventures, they manage to scoop up a princess on the run. Nothing original, there.
But Tris is an emerging necromancer whose source of power comes from his links with his dead grandmother. However, his brother’s wicked sorcerer is blocking his path to his dead family and he is tormented by images of his sister’s ghost imprisoned and unable to escape – unless he can build sufficient power to challenge the master necromancer whose power seems overwhelming…
As with all the better S & S, the magical element isn’t merely an additional weapon to be flicked around at the end of a wand. It is dangerous and quite capable of wiping out the magical user, along with all his followers if he can’t very quickly get the hang of how to harness it.
I’m not going to promise you an original world of complex characters that lodge in your head and won’t let you go… Neither will I claim that this is the greatest addition to the canon – that said, all the reviews I’ve read about the series have claimed that it goes on getting better in the subsequent books. However, in The Summoner the characters develop as the adventures stack up, the magic does have an interesting twist and Martin writes engrossing magical action and keeps the narrative pace moving at a good clip. All in all, an enjoyable read for fans of this sub-genre.