Title: Lord of Secrets (The Empty Gods #1)
Author: Breanna Teintze
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Genre: Fantasy
Book Format: Paperback (pre-release copy/ARC)
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Description: Magic is poison. Secrets are power. Death is . . . complicated.
Outlaw wizard Corcoran Gray has enough problems. He’s friendless, penniless and on the run from the tyrannical Mages’ Guild – and with the search for his imprisoned grandfather looking hopeless, his situation can’t get much worse.
So when a fugitive drops into his lap – literally – and gets them both arrested, it’s the last straw – until Gray realises that runaway slave Brix could be the key to his grandfather’s release. All he has to do is break out of prison, break into an ancient underground temple and avoid killing himself with his own magic in the process.
In theory, it’s simple enough. But as secrets unfold and loyalties shift, Gray discovers something with the power to change the nature of life and death itself.
Now Gray must find a way to protect the people he loves, but it could cost him everything, even his soul.

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  Wow, I’m not really sure what to say after reading this!  It’s a good fantasy story with some great characters and has a unique twist on how magic works, and the consequences of using it which I haven’t read before in a fantasy book, but for some reason I just didn’t enjoy reading this as much as I had hoped.  Lord of Secrets is the first in the Empty Gods series but feels more like a stand alone novel with the story wrapping up nicely at the end.  It begins with the main character, Corcoran Gray, finding himself invisible in a barn, waiting for a spell to wear off when a woman, a fugitive, bumps into his invisible form.  The two soon get caught, but with Gray practicing unlicensed magic and the woman turning out to be a slave on the run, they team up together to break out of prison and to help Gray save his grandfather.

The story feels easy to read and I did like the humorous way that Gray, who narrates the story, talks from the very beginning.  However it did take me some time to really get into the tale due to the over all way it was written.  The story is quite quick to unfold and is quite short when compared to your typical fantasy book, a lot happens though which is good, but at times it felt like everything was too rushed and I would have liked the story to have gone on and into much more detail than it ever really did.  Gray and the woman are soon joined by another charcter and the three go searching in a dark underground place for something that Gray needs to save his grandfather.  Although I was warming to the over all plot in this book, it wasn’t until this adventure underground began, that I really felt invested to keep reading.

The way that magic is cast and the consequences of using it are really interesting and very different to most stories I’ve read.  The characters need to constantly scribble things down, usually on themselves, in order to cast any magic and there are some terrible physical consequences to the caster of any spell that is cast.  I don’t think I’ve read anything like this before and it definitely made me more interested in the main character who doesn’t deal with the magical poisoning all that well.  About half way through the story things get far more interesting and I finally felt the creepy vibe of this novel.  It begins with that underground adventure and what happens while the characters are there.  It had a really good eerie feel to it and I loved the new character that joined the story soon after.

This particular, and very dark, character really kept the story going for me and was such an interesting one to get to know.  However, the way the tale concludes with this character felt disappointing and too rushed.  I felt like this character (I’d be spoiling the story if I mentioned a name) was pivitol to how dark this whole series could be and would keep me really wanting to read on to see how much darker things would get but in the end the last scenes felt rushed and we never really got to know why this character was as dark as he was or what he was really thinking.  The only real disappointment I felt was from reading this book was not getting to know this character more because until they showed up the story felt it was lacking something and it really got more and more interesting as it progressed with this new character.  There was such an opportunity to make them even darker and even more scary and to draw out the tension between this and other characters even more (possibly acrros the whole series) but this just never really happened and it felt disappointing to having things end the way they did.

The over all ending of the book is a good one with the whole story having a proper end and not just a cliff hanger moment.  I did like the way that things finished for Gray, Brix and the others, although what happened to Gray was a bit weird, not at all what I was expecting, but it was a good and interesting twist and I hope to read more of Gray’s new predicament and any consequences of it in future books.  I also liked how things ended overall for all the characters but if I’m honest I was expecting a bit more at the end, especially given the fact this is part of a series.  There was a great opportunity to leave a few unresolved problems, to keep me wanting to read the next book in the series, but this whole story finishes as if this is a stand alone novel and I wasn’t sure what to really think at the end.  What happens in general to all the characters isn’t anything bad and I did like the over all ending but I also wanted there to be much more about Brix and what had happened to her, I felt there could have been much more of a story or exploration about the djin bottles, there could have been more with Lorican who I liked as a character and although he has some necessary information to explain in the last half of the story, after that his character felt more of a background one with no decent reason to be there any more.  I also think what happens with the romantic relationship in the last pages was a bit rushed, given the timeline of events, I usually love stories with added romantic components but book felt like it rushed things at the end and that last scene had a bit of a moment which felt less romantic and more gringe – which I’ve not experienced reading romantic stories before in fantasy books.

There is occassional swearing in the book with the f word being used once and milder s and p words used a little more often.  There isn’t anything else really upsetting though, it is a little creepy and scary given the fact there is necromancy in the story with animated dead moving around, but it isn’t too scary to read and this book does make for a good and quick fantasy story. Despite my criticisms about the book on the whole and its ending there is a part of me that really got into the story and what happens is still a good read for those who want a lighter fantasy novel.  The creepy necromancy and over all story was interesting and I did like the way conversations went with Gray or another character often saying something that made me laugh.  Gray’s narration of the whole story was good too and I liked the way the whole plot goes.  I was compelled, especially after the dark underground part, to keep reading this tale.  However it just didn’t feel like a finished and polished novel if I’m honest and I often felt some distance when reading it.  There were some really good moments to the plot and it did keep me invested in reading but I never really felt my emotions tugged either way.  The writing was good but there always felt like there was some distance to the whole story, like I couldn’t quite enjoy getting to know the characters I had wanted and the dramatic scenes just didn’t feel as dramatic as I expected them to.

Overall if you like fantasy I’d still recommend this book, however if you are looking for a very in-depth series and are used to having a lot of detail in stories and a lot of depth to the characters then this maybe isn’t for you.  It was a good read though and despite my criticisms I know I’ll still be wanting to find out what is next in The Empty Gods series and hopefully find out more of what happens to some of the characters after that interesting twist with what happened to Gray.

Lord of Secrets will be released on the 8th Aughst 2019.

Do you like fantasy stories?  What fantasy books have you enjoyed?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂