ARC Review: Notorious Sorcerer by Davinia Evans

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ARC Review: Notorious Sorcerer by Davinia EvansNotorious Sorcerer (The Burnished City, #1) by Davinia Evans

Published by Orbit on September 13th 2022
Pages: 448
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In a city filled with dangerous yet heavily regulated alchemical magic, a man from the slums discovers he may be its only hope to survive certain destruction in this wickedly entertaining fantasy. 

Welcome to Bezim, where sword-slinging bravi race through the night and rich and idle alchemists make magic out of mixing and measuring the four planes of reality.

Siyon Velo, Dockside brat turned petty alchemist, scrapes a living hopping between the planes to harvest ingredients for the city’s alchemists. But when Siyon accidentally commits an act of impossible magic, he’s catapulted into the limelight—which is a bad place to be when the planes start lurching out of alignment, threatening to send Bezim into the sea.

It will take a miracle to save the city. Good thing Siyon has pulled off the impossible before. Now he just has to master it.

A dazzling fantasy bursting with wild magic, chaotic sword-fighting street gangs, brazen flirting, malevolent harpies, and one defiant alchemist.

Thank you to the publisher, Orbit, and Nazia Khatun for the free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Siyon Velo is our Notorious Sorcerer but he doesn’t start out there. He’s not even an alchemist apprentice, running errands and gathering ingredients. Without formal training, he’ll never get into the Summer Club. It’s nice to see a reluctant hero who has nearly nothing and grows so much in just one book. The one thing that bugged me a little was the unclear motivation Siyon has. He says he’s different, and that’s why he’s doing things. But to me, that doesn’t seem like the driving motivation for any of the decisions he’s making in the story.

The three secondary characters, Zagiri, Anahid, and Izmirlian, have their own wishes and they seem fairly simple compared to Siyon. They’re well-rounded characters, and I would’ve loved to see more of their personalities in the book. I’m not sure if their PoVs added much to the story aside from showing us what happens when Siyon is at a different place. I hope the next book will follow one of the other characters while Siyon takes more to the background. I’m curious about what Zagiri is up to next and how Anahid’s gambling adventure plays out.

The worldbuilding isn’t overwhelming, intricate, or vivid. It’s there but it’s not there enough to see it as its own character or to see a completely new world. It’s functional. That’s okay though. Not all stories need the grandest worldbuilding to be enjoyable.

I give Notorious Sorcer four stars. It’s an enjoyable new adventure, exploring alchemy-based magic. I’d recommend this for anyone who’s looking for new magic systems, doesn’t want another Western European-inspired book, and who likes political intrigue.

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