NOTORIOUS SORCERER by Davinia Evans.
Orbit Books. p/b. £8.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
Siyon Velo of the Little Bracken tribe has a talent for obtaining alchemical items. A simple trip to the other side to purloin rarities to sell to the nobility’s alchemists and scholars is all part of his day-to-day. It is the only way he can access teachings he would otherwise be denied. Alchemy only works in Bezim and is exclusively available to those higher in society than himself. They tell him there is something wrong with the four planes of reality. He may only be an assistant to alchemists but Siyon can feel it too.
For Zagiri Savani, bravi, and azatani herself, the experience of moving across planes to obtain rare artefacts is brand new. This is her first time tethering a sorcerer to reality. Her first brush with angelfire. Siyon is depending on her. Oh yes, and none of it is exactly legal.
Izmirlian Hisarani, fashionable azatani, has a commission that no one thus far has been able to deliver. Thanks to Siyon’s recent and rare successes he may be the one the noble son has been looking for. Success would mean all Siyon has worked for. Hoped for. But there is a reason no other has been able to do it. Siyon must decide whether the risk is worth the potential consequences.
Notorious Sorcerer is a fast-paced fantasy which places entertainment and humour at the forefront. On the lowest rung of the social ladder sits Siyon, talented but by position lacking access to true alchemical teaching. The nobility is happy to use him as a supplier but sees his conjuring as a danger. Siyon himself knows his limitations but he is smart and determined not to be held back. The constant threat of the illegality of magic and the inquisitors who hunt down and punish those practising the forbidden arts, of course with a bias towards those of low social standing, adds a nice layer of tension as the story progresses.
Evans has created a world that is lavishly rich in description and believable in dimension. From rooftop sword fights and back alley chases to threats from djinn and demon queens, amid conjuring and dodging and thinking outside society’s constraints, this first book in The Burnished City series delivers a hugely enjoyable medley of magic, fantasy and good old-fashioned adventure. The second book cannot come too soon.