The Necromancer’s Gambit by Nicolas Wilson

The Necromancer’s Gambit
by Nicolas Wilson
388 Pages
Self-Published, Dec. 10, 2013
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Reviewed by Tamara Martin

Knight, the sheriff of a local magical government known as "the Gambit," is called to recover a mutilated body, tainted with magic and dumped at a popular haunt. When the corpse is identified as a close associate of the Gambit, it threatens the safety of the community he protects, and those he cares about most. 

As the fragile peace amongst the city's magic-wielding factions disintegrates, Knight must track down a cadre of murderers before his friends are picked off, one by one- with each death used to strengthen the spells cast against the Gambit.


The Necromancer’s Gambit is a story revolving around the magical government of Portland. This governing body, or gambit, is made up of a King, Queen, Castle, Knight, Rook and Pawn. These are the titles of each of our main characters and also their job descriptions. We never learn any of their true names because names have power. This tale begins with Knight, our main protagonist, meeting Rook, a witch from Salem who is visiting in order to train to become a castle for her own coven. They are sent to investigate a dead body at a local bar. They soon find that this body is a member of the Portland gambit and the ensuing events reveal that they are all in danger. 

Wilson has exhaustively constructed a world where there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different types of magic being used by all the characters. All of the characters have different talents and different levels to their talent. Our main character, Knight, isn’t an especially gifted mage but he knows enough to be good at his job. The young witch that he is training, Rook, comes from a coven that put an emphasis on a more nature-oriented magic. Her background leaves her ill-prepared for the job that she is learning, namely to be a castle, and she feels out of her depth. 

Wilson does an excellent job of world-building in describing the different types of magic at play and creates several scenarios where we see it all in action via several violent (and exciting) encounters. However, he does fall short in world-building outside the magical arena. We never learn what anyone looks like. I would have liked to be able to see the characters through the eyes of the author. 

Wilson tells his story in first-person narratives but from different points of view. This did become confusing in a few instances when a point of view changed at the beginning of a new chapter. Each chapter is named but not after the person whose POV it is. It does take a few moments of reading to establish which character we are now listening to. Usually, there is some sort of reference in the dialogue which allows one to get their bearings. However, there is one whole chapter later in the book titled “Predators” where there is no reference to who is speaking to us. It became a process of elimination to deduce who was speaking and it was never conspicuously stated. I assumed that it was the POV of Knight but this sequence of events immediately follows him being badly injured and there is no reference to this injury so I was unsure. 

The changing POV’s really brought a fun element to the story and allowed the reader to be in the heads of different characters during key parts of the story. Another fun aspect of The Necromancer’s Gambit is the humor involved. It should be stated that a lot of this humor is crude. Quite crude. And there are a lot of penis references. Like, a lot. The characters run the gamut of every conceivable penis joke possible and I laughed out loud more than once. There is definitely an adult-oriented edginess to the story which you don’t see often. That being said, if you don’t like crude, adult humor then this book may not be for you as it is ubiquitous. 

The locker room humor is tempered by a violent, and sometimes very dark, story. Without giving away too much of the story I will just say that there will be times when you squirm. The author holds no punches with his descriptions of brutality and with his wicked sense of humor. He does tie it all together in an engaging and interesting plot. 

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About the Reviewer:

Tamara is a law enforcement officer in Florida. When not working she can often be found with her nose buried in a book. Twitter: @TamaraM612

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