The story of Nadira The Reader continues in Book Two of the Elysium Texts series.
At the dawn of the Renaissance a young woman finds herself in the midst of a clash of cultures. Nadira has earned her place in the company of adventurers traveling to Istanbul to uncover something the Templar Knights lost 200 years before. She brings with her the knowledge and skills she acquired from reading the Hermetica of Elysium and learns that she is the key the Templars need to unlock their past. She is on her own quest to discover the source of the strange voice that spoke to her from the Hermetica. She has been instructed to travel to Eleusis to study with the last priestess of the old religion. Lord Montrose becomes impatient with the Brotherhood’s mission. He is eager to turn his attention to seeking out and punishing his brother’s murderers who sail the Mediterranean hunting heretical manuscripts. Friar William is in the throes of doubt as his faith is challenged by what he has learned from the alchemists. The Templars have not been entirely honest with her, and when she realizes what it is they are after she is horrified to learn that not all knowledge brings a clear light to the mind. There is some knowledge that darkens the soul and clouds the spirit. What they want from her is no less than the harrowing of hell.
Nadira is told she must find and read the Necromancer’s Grimoire.
Annmarie Banks wastes no time in The Necromancer’s Grimoire, the second installment of The Elysium Texts series. Grimoire begins just two days after the end of book one, The Hermetica of Elysium and is so smoothly connected to the first installment that I was able to fall right into the read and become immediately absorbed.
Nadira, Lord Montrose, and crew just can’t seem to find a moment of peace and while they are all together once again, they now find themselves indebted to the Knights Templar. Nadira’s reputation has spread and the Knights believe it is she and she alone who can help them recover a precious artifact lost to the order more than 200 years ago. While Lord Montrose is not pleased with the indebtedness he knows he must go along with the arrangement if he wants to continue to protect and be with Nadira. For her part, Nadira has come to understand her gift is something someone somewhere will always want and her life will likely always be one of service if not servitude. And thus, the journey to Istanbul begins.
Initially the relationship between Nadira and her men and the Knights is one of caution and wariness as each side seems to always be holding a little back from the other. As their circumstances change, sometimes for the better and other times for the worse, each side learns they must trust one another if they are to complete their respective missions and survive. Completing their respective missions is hindered at almost every turn by the Necromancer, a man who holds great sway in Istanbul thanks to his mastery of the Grimoire. The Necromancer is an evil and greedy man who is willing to do whatever is necessary, no matter how heinous, in order to maintain his power and position. As Nadira’s power continues to grow she understands she must not only take the Grimoire from the Necromancer but defeat him if she and her men are ever to be safe again. Obviously, such an undertaking will be dangerous at best and deadly at worst and there will be collateral damage.
Here’s what I love about this book:
*the plot: it is both complicated and intricate while still being completely accessible. Banks manages to pull every aspect of the plot, both major and minor, into one complete entity that is thoroughly engaging and interesting.
*the pacing: this is a long read yet Banks has ensured even in the quiet moments the reader is fully engaged. In fact, it is during the quiet moments that the reader (and Nadira) gains the greatest information including loads of backstory on the various characters (YAY!!), precisely what the Grimoire is and how it can be used, and what Nadira must do to defeat the Necromancer.
*Nadira’s men: there is not a man in the group I dislike and am, in fact, very fond of each and every one of them. There is her Lord (and husband!) Montrose, the enormous redhead (who finds a girlfriend!), the inquisitive and troubled friar turned apprentice, and the mute giant. Nadira cherishes each man and never fails to use her power to come to their aid. Most intriguing is how each of the men comes to trust Nadira even to the point of ignoring their instincts. For example, when the men’s instincts are pushing them toward action, they heed Nadira’s advice to remain still. This trust and mutual respect between Nadira and her men is one of my favorite parts of this read and allows the reader to become more fully attached to each character.
*Nadira: As Shakespeare once wrote “Though she be but little, she is fierce!” That would pretty much cover it where Nadira is concerned. She is immensely powerful and constantly growing in strength (the stopover in Eleusis! WOW!!) but remains pure in terms of her love, her power, and her knowledge. She strives to know everything so she can make the most educated and well-informed decisions possible. Though she endeavors to only use her gifts for good, Nadira is often forced into actions she despises in order to protect those she loves and holds dear. Make no mistake, Nadira always protects those she calls her own and it is one of her finest qualities.
The Bottom Line: In all honesty, I have no complaints about this read other than the fact it ended and the third book is not yet available. Banks hasn’t just written a story, she has created, crafted, and molded a world full of knowledge, faith and religion, mysticism and magic. Also occupying this world are beautiful characters whose journey you willingly take with them despite the fear and the danger. The world and the characters are real and for lovers of the medieval period and fantasy, this read is absolutely a must-read for you!
Book Two: The Necromancer’s Grimoire: