Review: Alchemy of Chaos by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Series: Maradaine #2
Also by this author: The Thorn of Dentonhill
Published by DAW on February 2nd 2016
Also in this series: The Imposters of Aventil
The saga of the streets of Maradaine that began in The Thorn of Dentonhill continues….
Veranix Calbert is The Thorn—the street vigilante who became a legend to the people of Maradaine, especially the gangs that run the neighborhood of Aventil. The Thorn continues to harass Willem Fenmere, the drug kingpin of the Dentonhill neighborhood. Veranix is still determined to stop Fenmere and the effitte drug trade, especially when he discovers that Fenmere is planning on using the Red Rabbits gang to bring the drug into Aventil.
But it’s also Exam Week at the University of Maradaine, where Veranix is a magic student. With his academic career—and future as a mage—riding on his performance, Veranix needs to devote himself entirely to studying and participating in a fellow student’s thesis experiments. There’s no time to go after Fenmere or the Red Rabbits.
Then a series of strange pranks begin to plague the campus, using a form of magic that Veranix doesn’t recognize. As the pranks grow increasingly deadly, it becomes clear that there’s someone with a vendetta against the university, and The Thorn may be the only one capable of stopping them. Between the prankster, the war brewing between the Aventil gangs, and the flamboyant assassins Fenmere has hired to kill him, Veranix may end up dead before the week is out. Which just might be preferable to taking his exams….
Alchemy of Chaos is another great installment in the Maradaine world. It continues to carry forward the excitement of magic, gangs we met in The Thorn of Dentonhill and even introduces some deadly female assassins into the mix.
Veranix, known as The Thorn on the street, has become a notorious vigilante in Maradaine. His presence and interference has caused disruption and concern not just amongst his target, the effite trade and Fenmere’s operation in Dentonhill, but the street gangs of Mardaine have also taken notice. Some view him as a positive thing, on their side. But others see him as a potential threat that may be out to take terrority from them. This definitely becomes more of a worry after The Thorn discovers that the Red Rabbits have begun to work their way into the effite trade. Dealing in effite makes them targets, but other gangs just see The Thorn starting to take out a fellow gang, raising fears about what his ultimate plans really are.
One of the things I enjoy about this book is how Veranix is learning to rely (and trust) others to help him. He may have started as a solo vigilante, but taking out Fenmere’s entire effite trade is proving to be more than just a single man operation. Even powerful vigilantes need back up sometimes. And as magical as this book is, it is nice to see that Veranix has some limitations that prevent him from being completely unbeatable. Without the help of his close friends and allies, the story would have gone much differently.
Be aware, this is a book that requires full and total dismissal of disbelief. I think this may be my only point that could be viewed negative, but really I think it is more just a result of the type of story it is telling. There were moments in the book where I would question a decision, feeling like resolution could have come quicker if only so and so and done x instead of y. And then there is the point that everything always seems to conveniently come together. Often times I think the author tries to make common sense/simple things sound like super genius moves. But ofcourse, as a reader, that is an easy thing for me think. And honestly, I don’t feel like any of it really deterred me from reading the book. Actually, I devoured this book in a little over a day which is something I never do if I have serious complaints. It takes a fun addictive book that I just outright enjoy for me to read it that fast, and this is that type of book.
The bottom line is that this is a story about enjoying the ride more than critiquing decisions and events. Or at least that is how I see it. Because despite any nitpicks I may find in it, I can not deny that it was another fun read. This is a book you read for the adventure, the friendships and the magic of making the impossible happen. In those things, this book and series does very well.
This review was originally posted on The Speculative Herald.