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Surrealistic Planet

Legacy of a Hated God by Patrick Samphire

The Mennick Thorn series comes to an end in the best, most epic of ways!

I maintain writing is like weaving. The best stories bring threads together, carefully applying the warp and the weft to highlight some elements, while hiding others for later. To do this over a series of four books presents an enormous challenge for any author. Patrick Samphire succeeds with aplomb!

One of the things I've loved most in Legacy of a Hated God is the way threads from earlier books appear, fade, only to reappear again. Shadow of a Dead God establishes the magic system. In Nectar for the God the role of The Wren and Nik's mother, High Mages, comes into focus and his relationship with Benny goes sour. Strange Cargo sets up the conditions for the final part of the series. It means, by the fourth instalment, characters are familiar, thoroughly explored and utterly engaging. They are human (OK, apart from the monsters and the gods!) and have their frailties and failings. Those very qualities underpin the stories. Patrick Samphire's plots are founded on these weaknesses. Though the stories may be fantasy, you see these people everywhere you look. Just because it's fantasy doesn't negate the need to provide social commentary!

Nik is the type of hero that fits perfectly within this theme. He is the person we would all like to be. That person who doesn't question personal safety, who supports those who are vulnerable for no other reason than no one else will. His integrity is rock solid and we'd all like to be that way, few of us are. To illustrate, part of the plot revolves around his reaction to the death of a minor character in an earlier book. That reaction costs him dearly but at no point does he ever regret his actions. He accepts the consequences and moves on.

Nik's stories fall into the fantasy mystery genre and they typify it perfectly. The mystery is established at the beginning and events misdirect us when we think we're being fed accurate information. Like a conjurer, the author needs to completely surprise us in the end because the denouement is not what we expect. Yet, with closer inspection, you realise the answers were there all along! These stories are labelled as being akin to Jim Butcher's Dresden Files and I can see the similarities. Dresden is another man whose heroic deeds leads him to risk his life in pursuit of doing The Right Thing. This conjuring act may not sit well with my weaving analogy, except to suggest parts of the final pattern are never visible until the job is finished. (OK, I've stretched that metaphor as far as it will go!)

As the author says in his Acknowledgements, I will also miss Nik a great deal. I'm sorry this is the end of his adventures. The story wraps everything up beautifully. I finished the final page and let out a huge sigh of satisfaction. I'm a sucker for a happy ending. That's not a spoiler either. These stories are not that dark. The question is always, HOW can that happiness be achieved? We're promised more short stories and novellas and that provides a crumb of comfort!

I have deliberately not mentioned any events in the story. To do so might compromise the enjoyment of those folk who are about to start reading the series. But the plot is so complex, the threads woven so tightly (oops!) that to lift out certain events belittles that complexity. Suffice to say, the pace never drops. Nik spends most of his time running in this story, from one crisis to another. The result of perfectly sustained excitement.

Go get this book. You will not regret it. And start badgering Netflix and Amazon to get Nik's adventures on screen!

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