The story starts with Lem and his faithful, if not rather mentally challenged friend Mags enjoying all life that has to offer. Well, what it can offer a couple of con artists who only have $7 between them, no home and no belongings. There are basically the lowest rung of the magical ladder and have no intention of trying to climb higher. Lem, himself aptly describes their situation:
We were fucking incompetent. In all things, we’d failed. We were wallowing in a nice, comfy pit of fucking spectacular failure, deep black and hermetically sealed, me and Mags bound together forever and ever with deep fishhooked ties of ruin.
They are minding their own business when they discover a young girl in an abandoned apartment whose skin is covered in runes and drained of blood. On the run from this discovery its not long before fate kicks them in the butt again and they stumble into rescuing Claire from being kidnapped and who is also covered in the same runes. Black magic is at play with the Archmage Renar planning to fuel an immortality spell with the blood of dozens of girls and Claire is the final piece of the spell. Its not long before Lem and Mags find themselves on the run with Claire and wondering how or if they will be able to stop Renar and survive.
“Jesus,” I spat, pouring myself some booze. “What the fuck are we going to do up there? Renar’s an Archmage, for fuck’s sake. We’re fucking con artists. We can’t all steal her wallet.”
The plot is a roller coaster of spells, cantrips and blood…lots and lots of blood. Blood is the reason why Lem and Mags are so low in the magical hierarchy as this is down to Lem’s refusal to use the blood of others to fuel his spells. This strong ethic seems incongruous with his lifestyle as he uses magic to con money out of others but Somers uses Lem’s memories to explain this choice.
The characters and plot were a bit like a mashup of the Miriam Black series by Chuck Wendig and the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher. Lem was quite like Miriam Black – gritty, unlikeable, (quite dirty) and squandering his talents but at the same time quite like Harry Dresden, a mage, not willing to take the easy road on the blood of others and willing to risk his own life to save someone who needs it. Somer creates a great dynamic between Lem and Mags with a relationship where both are dependent on each other for completely different reasons. Mags is like a needy child who is tied to Lem to help him survive in a world where so many would take advantage of him while Lem relies on Mags to keep him grounded and seems to give him something to live for. This was an uneasy friendship but really worked to make Lem more than just a one dimensional character.
I only really just ‘liked’ Trickster until the final chapters when the action really heated up and the plot came to head. I felt that Somers must be holding something back and is planning to deliver a big punch in future novels as the plot line was only partially resolved. I was slightly distracted by the formatting of early digital copy but I feel however, that there was something missing that could have tipped it from the 3 stars I have awarded it to 3.5 stars or even higher. I hope that Somers is able to deliver in future novels of this series as I am intrigued to see what Lem is a able to achieve and I have soft spot for the uni-browed, dimwitted Mags.
I enjoyed Trickster but wasn’t gripped enough not to put it down and read something else. I had an early digital copy and the formatting was a bit off which was distracting and I think I would have been more engaged had this not been the case. Having said that it really picked up in the last third of the book and had me hanging on to every word. Somers got the balance perfect between character development and plot which was refreshing especially in this genre which can tend to focus more on the action of the plot. Somers created the most unlikely heroes both in Lem and Mags and I had my fingers crossed that they would save the day (and the girl). I am keeping my fingers crossed that Somers works some magic to build upon these characters and delivers an even better book two. If you like magic, a lot of action and don’t mind characters that never seem to shower or change their clothes then make sure Trickster is on your TBR pile.
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