Malfus: Necromancer Unchained
by Casey Sutton
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Pub Date 28 Jun 2023 | Archive Date 30 Nov 2023
Malfus is a renegade, an outlaw, a necromancer. Now he’s a prisoner.
Malfus’s past has finally caught up with him. He’s a renegade, an outlaw, a necromancer. Now he’s a prisoner.
He’s been captured by Inquisitor Deza, to be tried, tortured, and executed for his crimes. But they’re ambushed by half-hyena marauders, forcing them to take refuge with a heavily wounded battalion already under siege by the monsters.
Deza only cares about his mission. But another assault by the marauders would be a death sentence for the battalion. The only option remaining is to free Malfus and to raise an army of the dead.
But will the dead be enough to save the living?
A Note From the Publisher
Previously in the top 50 on RoyalRoad.
Will be on audiobook format as well.
Edited by someone who has worked with Brandon Sanderson and Neil Gaiman.
Previously in the top 50 on RoyalRoad.
Will be on audiobook format as well.
Intrigued by the synopsis, I dove in and couldn’t put it down. The snarky necromancer Malfus is relatable, enduring the best he can. With each step I took with him in his story, more of Malfus’s realistic background drew me to liking him and wanting everything to work out. This is a big deal in a book, to care for the character- rooting for their success and getting nervous as more events and choices are added toward an unclear end.
The author’s voice is strong, and the word choice is excellent, really pulling you into the scenes. Plot pacing keeps everything moving forward, and the alternative character perspectives give depth to events. It also gave me a few surprises, real surprises I didn’t foreshadow. Warning it is violent (what else can you expect from necromancy?).
I so rarely give out 5 stars and am happy to say this is one of the rare ones.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 39 members
Malfus is one of my new favorite characters. He's not the standard archetype for a hero of his own book. Beyond his abilities as a fledgling necromancer, he not physically imposing, battle trained or brave. But, true heroism lies in being scared, but still being bold and pushing through fear to do that which terrifies because it's the "right" thing to do. Obviously necromancy is not seen as right , for any means by some. By its nature Malfus Magic is only ambiguous when used to save others, because at its heart is evil.
Almost the entire story takes place inside a fort on the edge of civilization, next to "the scar", which has not thoroughly been explained, but I look forward to more stories regarding. Regardless of the bulk story taking place in one location, the story is tense, dark, and quick paced. Sutton made the story draw you in and used a technique of showing the battle from multiple points of view, even when the characters are relatively minor. All views intersect on the shared battles which they all experience.
Since this book isn't a fantasy EPIC but a shorter story, I look forward to many further adventures from malfus and his sardonic wise-cracking. Wether he's feigning respect for a particularly nasty "better"( inquisitor) or talking to his "abominations".
A fun, lighter grimdark fantasy, with a great aspect of magic. Professional writing which I would happily recommend to fans of fantasy & fiction alike
Definitely just as fun as the prequel, don't expect anything mind shattering going into it but this book is definitely a great amount of fun just waiting to be had.
Clear your day, this book grabs you fast and takes you on an extraordinary ride you wish will never end. This is one of those books where discovery is the best part; the twists and turns, emotions invoked and the intriguing characters. Enjoy it!
Rated down. My rating 4.5/5.
CW: Graphic Violence/Gore
In the lands of Ossoria, magic is revered, that is unless the magic you practice is raising the dead. Malfus, a necromancer on the run is finally tracked down by Inquisitor Deza, a zealot of the goddess Vesenia, to be taken in to be tried, tortured, and executed for his crimes. On their way to the Holy City they are ambushed and make a run for the nearest fortress. There they find a battalion barely hanging on by a thread. While Inquisitor Deza only cares about getting his prisoner to Vesper, the Colonel of the fortress sees an opportunity to raise a new army with the help of Malfus, an army of the dead.
I immediately fell in love with Malfus, just from the first couple of pages. He is a gloomy and sarcastic delight of a person. His melancholic disposition is nearly comical especially paired with the all too serious Inquisitor Deza. Plenty of morally gray characters to go around though.
As a whole I found the story to be steadily paced. With a special attention to detail in the fight scenes. I’ve watched and read a lot of horror and although its not at the top of the most graphic I’ve read, I would personally give it a content warning for graphic violence/gore. I personally love the detailed fight and massacre scenes not sure what that says about me, but know I’m here for it.
I appreciate the different perspectives presented, however I found the ones from the seemingly random soldiers to be a bit hard to keep track of. I understand that the reason was to humanize these soldiers for what came later, but it also felt a tad unnecessary. Although these small glimpses into the backgrounds of these soldiers is supposed to create an emotional tie, I felt it fell short. There were too many and not enough time, so their inevitable fates were glazed over. The more main characters are pretty well fleshed out though. The internal battle that Malfus has is entertaining and heartening. For someone cast out for being a necromancer and painted as an abomination, he is probably the most honest out of the lot of them. I enjoyed reading his battle between self-preservation and “doing the right thing”.
It’s nothing for me to breeze though 298 pages, but there is some great world building going on that it took me a little longer to digest. Casey Sutton paints a great basic picture of the physical nature of the Ossoria as well as it’s political and social climate. With enough detail to draw you in Casey still leaves enough to build on in later books. I can’t wait to see what trouble Malfus gets himself into next and for any old and new faces to come.
I have to mention the artwork. For the cover art, I wasn’t completely sold. Although it’s beautifully done, when I had initially browsed it didn’t capture my attention. After reading the book, I like it much more. The artwork I really want to talk about is the interior artwork. I won’t say too much about it other than I love the Magic the Gathering-esque look, it feels very on brand.
Thank you to NetGalley and Casey Hawkins for providing this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion and a voluntary submission.
This was such a curious book.
Is cosy-despair a genre yet? Because that is kind of the feeling that i was left with. This was a book that was truly bleak and had some gruesome horror elements and yet had moments of humor and charm which were enjoyable to experience. Malfus especially was an enjoyable and charming morally grey protagonist.
I found it interesting that you are really plonked down in this world with these characters, and there is only the slightest reference to the greater world, political systems and motivations for war. But ultimately those things aren't really important in this narrative, because the focus of this story is this very micro snapshot into the lives of these soldiers on the front line, in this small window of time during a longer war.
So often in fantasy books 'the battle' is one scene on a longer journey, and i haven't read many examples where the focus has really been on the horror of being in the thick of it.
I really enjoyed this (and the artwork along the way) and will definitely be keen to read the next installment.
Thank you NetGalley and Casey Sutton for providing an ARC. This review is my honest uninfluenced opinion
If you love D&D and love adventure, an escape from the crazy world we are currently living in. I highly recommend this beautiful book it has gotten me thru hell in my personal life. It was such a pleasure to be apart of the arc team who read this book.
EASILY ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I’VE READ ALL YEAR. This book had it all- interesting plot, action, adventure, fantasy, horror, amazing artwork, captivating characters, and more!
This story is about a necromancer named Malfus who has been captured and is now a prisoner to Inquisitor Deza. Malfus is to be tried, tortured and executed for his crimes- until they are ambushed by half-hyena marauders and are forced to seek refuge with a heavily wounded battalion already under siege by monsters. Although Deza only cares about his mission- he has no other choice but to let Malfus free to raise an army of the dead to fight along their side.
The characters have amazing banter, are believable, and are SUPER F***ING COOL. I really loved that there were a few illustrations to go along with the story- not enough that I couldn’t use my imagination, but a few that really brought the story to life. It was really great to see these characters in action. It was action packed in the 289 pages and it’s perfect. The plot makes sense and nothing drags out. Everything comes together perfectly and kept me interested from start to finish.
I seriously can’t say anything bad about this book- other than that I WANTED MORE? Not that I think the book should have been longer. I actually think it was the perfect length. A quick and incredible read. But, I would LOVE to read more about Malfus, or really any of the characters!
Full 5 stars, by FAR. My favourite ARC read probably ever. Very grateful to have had the opportunity to read this one. I will HIGHLY recommend to my book friends- and even to those that don’t read much. I think anyone could enjoy this book.
Thank you to NetGalley and Casey Sutton Writes for sending this book for review consideration! All opinions are my own.
Malfus: Necromancer Unchained was a lot of fun to read. It was written to be an adventure that was easy to follow and enjoyable all along the way, and did that really well. The artwork inside is also great!
Note: arc provided by the publisher via netgalley in exchange for honest review
Thank you Net Galley for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
War. Undead soldiers. Battle action. Gore, death, and a power-hungry lich. If any of these appeal to you, give this book a shot! It was fewer than 300 pages, but it felt longer with how much world-building and action was packed into it. One of my favorite aspects of this book was the world-building - it was exactly the right amount. Not so little that you are left floundering and confused, but not so much as to "info-dump" as many fantasy novels fall victim to. The writing is detailed and not overly verbose. I felt immersed in the grim, dark, and brutal world Malfus was living in.
This book was well written, but overall it was not for me. Malfus as a character is so snarky and sarcastic - you love him within the first few pages. However, I feel like more than half of the book is told from other perspectives (at times, seemingly random soldiers). Malfus often felt like a supporting character rather than the titular protagonist. I found myself disconnecting whenever the POV switched to soldiers. I wish the book had focused more on Malfus himself, and less on the play-by-play of the battle. I know this is just a personal preference, but I felt like the battle scenes (which, frankly, is a majority of the book) dragged on and did not hold my attention.
Additionally, I feel like this book could have benefitted from more detailed flashbacks into Malfus' past. I wanted more information on his relationship with Kiara and I felt the book lacking in that aspect
The artwork in the book was amazing!
Very thrilling and immersive book. All of the characters are wonderfully rounded and can appreciate the plot line within.
I was pleasantly surprised with how well this book flowed once I found out it was the authors debut novel. Superbly done character development and such relatable characters overall. The plot flows smoothly amd the world building is intense. You really get the feel for the dark and gritty landscape presented. I don't often read grimdark, but the description caught my eye and im.glad I gave it a go because I really enjoyed this one.
So, I was perusing Netgalley last week and came across this book. The cool cover and word 'necromancer' caught my attention, but i thought 'ehh the deadline is pretty soon, better not'.
During this time my husband (not an ARC reader) was perusing Amazon for a new book and he showed me his phone and said 'I definitely want to read this one, but it isn't out yet!' And, what do you know?
It was this book.
So, I quickly applied for the ARC so that when he reads it, I can surprise him and know what he's talking about! :)
This Horror/War Fantasy was outside my usual Fantasy genre niches a bit, (usually I like a heavy dose of romance in my books) but I really enjoyed it!
Malfus has a sarcastic sense of humor and I found him easy to cheer for; especially since life & society had been hard on him thus far. The juxtaposition between Malfus and Inquisitor Deza made for a fun read and I was audibly laughing at times.
This was well-written, bingable, and filled with some awesome fight scenes. The world-building was great with more room to expand in the next books. The story line was easy to follow, which I appreciated since, again, this isn't my usual genre niche. I would definitely read more books by this author and the next books in this series.
Tysm for letting me be an ARC reader.
Thank you Netgalley for the ARC
The plot is quite simple. You could even say "nothing really happened!" There are no multiple story arcs, subplots, etc. But then again, you can also say that <i>Old Man and the Sea</i> is just a fishing story. While this book is nowhere near a literary classic, its forte lies in the characters. You get to see the story through every character, even the seemingly minor character like the random guard that only appears for a quick scene. Might seem unnecessary, but their unique view on what is happening surprisingly adds to the overall story of people rising up to fight against an overwhelming force.
It is no surprise to find that Sutton is a DnD DM. He succeeded in painting a vivid picture of the scene and showing what is going on inside the characters. This is an entertaining, fleshed-out beginning of a necromancer's [mis]adventure. There are still unanswered questions that hopefully we will discover in the future.
This story and author have a lot of potential- I was maybe just not the perfect reader for it. This story reads very much like a Dungeons and Dragons' DM's notes outlining a one shot session. Most of the characters, spells, and mechanics were structured around that game's structure. The story starts in an intriguing way, finding Malfus right in the action of a sticky situation. However, it lacked the momentum I was looking for in the plot and story line. I was hopeful to be given more vivid insights into the key moments in Malfus' past, but those moments were glazed over. Instead, the bulk of the story is focused on a single battle, detailing each characters specific step by step actions in detail.
There were some moments of impressive curiosity- such as a chapter that bounces through the perspectives of a variety of individuals in a way to give you a creative look at the chaos of the events- but overall the story felt like it was dragging and might have been more successful condensed into a short story. However, if you are someone who enjoys reading campaign overviews, this book would be a good fit for you!
“Malfus: Necromancer Unchained” is a heck of a good time. I’m really enjoying the rise of fantasy horror recently. Malfus is a great main character, constantly in misadventures and impossible situations and getting out in just the nick of time. The battle scenes were so good, some of the best I’ve read. I’m looking forward to Malfus and his next adventure!
Thank you to NetGalley and Casey Sutton Writes for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
e #Malfus #NetGalley
I got that book from NetGalley, thank you very much!
And a huge mountain of gratitude for Casey Sutton the honorable creator of Malfus the necromancer for his kind heart and fast approval.
The illustrations are beautiful
This is a quite unusual variation of necromancy for me, Malfus (the necromancer ) is actually a good man, or at least a man who tries to do something good, and his adversary, Inqusitor Deza is awesome character and dangerous enemy. And the book has a feeling of old spaghetti westerns for all the soldiers, their commander - coloner Gregor Peshka, the lovely First Sergeant Goren and the gnoll chieftain Ghostface
I'll be eagerly waiting for the next part, for I have a lot of questions and a fear for Malfus feature...
This was an interesting read. I love the Necromancer, I've always been fascinated by the stories. The author has a great writing style, easy to read, keeps your attention etc.
Being a debut novel, I was pleasantly surprised.
I would have liked to see more flashbacks, the war scenes are really detailed and came across as I had hoped.
Overall this was a good read.
Malfus is entertaining and unique. The books concept is different from anything I ever read and I could see it being popular with fans of Percy Jackson and Maze Runner.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that I am part of the intended audience for this novel. Therefore, I gave three stars, and will DNF at around 30%
This book was so beautifully written and I loved every minute of it.
It was dark and twisted and graphic and violent but why would we expect a story about a necromancer to be any different
I’m surprise it’s a debut novel, the world building is so interesting but easy to digest, the writing is lyrical, the characters are well written !
It gave me some Gunslinger vibe (if you know you know).
I also loved the fact that we had a lot of different POVs with side characters. And I have to say… Morten is the MVP of the book
It’s a really good first book, and I’m intrigued to read more of Malfus’ story !
Also, the drawings were a nice touch and I enjoyed them a lot
This story follows a necromancer who has been taken captive by an Inquisitor to face justice for his crimes against humanity (or the religious oligarchy). It is set up to feel like an epic journey is ahead, but the duo is caught at a fortress when gnolls attack. The majority of the book is spent within the fortress, and details life under siege and the battles that ensue.
From the start Malfus was written with a great character voice. He's funny and biting, and brings a sense of levity to a rather dark story. He reminds me a bit of Gideon from Gideon the Ninth at this point. As it progresses, he loses that levity and delves deeper into the seriousness that one would usually think accompanies a necromancer.
I loved the self immolation of the Inquisitor. The religious zeal and love of pain painted a fascinating picture of this character. His devotion runs deep. I wish that I had more time to get into his mind and learn more about his motivations.
My only issue is that I wanted more! The book is so short, and could have been a sprawling epic if it wanted to. It feels like you're dropped into a story already in motion. I felt like I had missed the first 100 pages, and I did need the background that would have provided. The story takes off with a running start, but as you continue you start to wonder what brought Malfus to that point. You flow through multiple soldier POV's which is incredibly unique and brings the reader close to the hand to hand combat, but the reader misses out on a more centralized storyline of Malfus and the Inquisitor. You lose out on the detail and background that would drive their story forward. It would work if this was an excerpt from a larger story, but when it's this short, you are left wanting for more time in the mind of Malfus and the Inquisitor.
Overall, this was a great study in siege battles and some fantastic necromantic magic. I had a blast!
The artwork inside was incredibly well done, and really added something special to my read.
Thank you NetGalley and Casey Sutton for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
(3.5 but I rounded up) This book had a strong storyline with a unique concept and draws you in to its world with ease. I liked the MMC and enjoyed his witty sarcasm throughout the story. The flashbacks to his past were good snippets, but they were just that, snippets. I would’ve liked to have seen more depth with those, as they felt as if they were very surface level.
The authors writing style is brilliant and flows beautifully from page to page making this a very easy read. I will say that there is scenes of violence and gore (which I loved) but they are very detailed so just giving a forewarning to other readers.
Overall, this was a nice easy read, and I would happily recommend it to you all, especially if you’re into DnD! I just would have like to see more from Malfus’ flashbacks.
It was an epic fantasy story! Love the fast pacing and lots of characters in it. The world building is good, but could be expanded further. Looking forward the next book!
My first read by this author. I had no idea what to expect but it was amazing to read lots of action and dark vibes. Not as gory as i thought which was good. The writing style was easy and just enough to understand the story. Lots in the story i love magic, monsters, battles, and zombies which i love all those. Kinda gave me vibes of the walking dead, game of thrones and D&D. I would recommend this book and author.
It was the best decision to finish this month with this awesome novel.
The cover gives off dark and sinister vibes and these vibes are clearly present in the story. It is grim, macabre, and I absolutely adored it. The plot is very engaging (morbid yes, but terrific as well). I did not need a lot of time before being completely absorbed by the world and its interesting characters.
The main character is gripping from the start. His background is mysterious and intriguing. Some other characters are also interesting but he definitely has a more appealing personality to me.
The plot is actually quite gruesome, and I really liked it. The author detailed many battle scenes and it gave more depth to the already dark story. I was enthralled from the beginning to the end.
I’m looking forward to reading the prequel novella and the next book(s) in this series.
Thank you to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for a honest review.
This was amazing! Solid fantasy book, the only problem is I wish it was longer. Can’t wait to read what other works Casey Sutton puts out in the future!
I really loved this book. The banter was great and I enjoyed the Inquisitor and Malfus as the main characters we followed. However I feel like this could have been better had the battle not be so long or if it didn’t end where it did.
Malfus the Necromancer is an exhilarating fantasy novel. I really enjoyed this book. The cover pulled me in first and then the blurb left me very intrigued. I'm glad I requested an arc copy. The story moved along at a good pace and I loved the characters. The descriptions of the gnolls really charges my imagination. I really loved the artwork and the quotes at the top of every chapter.
I can't wait to read more from this author.
Arc review: Malfus: Necromancer unchained by Casey Sutton
I've been hesitant to pick up books with not a huge amount of reviews as I very easily get into a reading slump. But then I've read A Gamble of Gods by and Harbringer of Justice by and my attitude drastically changed. Casey Sutton is another author, as the two mentioned above, that I'll follow and read everything they come up with.
The book is a grimdark military fantasy in which we follow a necromancer that had been caught by an Inquisitor- he is being brought to face justice and they find shelter in a fortress where a battle with an enemy ensues. We get immediately thrown into the story and the action is almost non-stop from there. Our main character is sarcastic and the book starts with a more fun tone, even though the situation presented to the reader is very dire. That's why I didn't expect being hit by all kinds of emotions that hard. We get multiple POVs interwoven with the one of Malfus and each one is really moving. Even though the pacing is very fast (I've sometimes had an issue with keeping my focus but that's on me!), there are also deep dives into emotions and lives of our characters.
I've really really loved the book and can't wait for the next part. It really kept me on edge and engaged.
I feel like it's a perfect book for fans of:
📖 Joe Abercrombie
📖 Guns of the Dawn by Tchaikovsky!
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for granting me an access to an arc. This has been a fantastic ride!
Malfus: Necromancer Unchained by Casey Sutton is, as evidenced by the title, a book about death. Lots and lots of it. There's some intense battles between humans at a fort and the gnolls and giants trying to murder everyone there. Not to mention the Inquisitor and his captive, Malfus. When the two end up fleeing to the fort, they become embroiled in the conflict, and at odds with each other about how to wage war.
The book is great for fans of military fantasy (think Lord of the Rings, plus zombies), with some humor and snarkiness to keep from being too fraught.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the Advanced Reading Copy.
I wanted so much to like this but had difficulty getting into the story. I loved the illustrations in this book. The battle sequences were very well wrote and filled with tension.
Since this is a story about a Necromancer I had to read it, simply as that! Because how can you resist a Necromancer's story? But in the end, this book was not really what I was expecting, and maybe it's because of said expectations that I didn't enjoy this book as much, but... all things considered, I was really hoping for more.
On one hand, the story is interesting and it is also unusual. And this part I really appreciated. And we have a Necromancer and an Inquisitor that are linked by more than the fact that one is the natural prey of the other. And this part was interesting, for sure.
But the characters are not so well developed, Malfus, our Necromancer, is a coward who is trying his best to survive a dire situation, and our Inquisitor is a zealot on a mission. And, to be clear, you can do an amazing job with this kind of characters, but you have to be more in-depth with their development, and I am really partial to some sense of humor (I am not saying that they should go around cracking joke everywhere, but a subtle or dark sense of humor, some banter, some irony or self-deprecating jabs... something like that!), but we don't fin these things. Sadly.
The soldiers of the fort were nice, and I think they were my favorite things in the book, especially the one who befriend Malfus and the Captain. But they weren't enough to make the book.
This was a really fun read! I hadn't realized the story was mostly going to take place during siege battles at a military fort, so it wasn't quite what I'd expected, but it ended up being very entertaining. I love that the main character is not super fit, intelligent, all-powerful, etc., like so many MCs. He's interesting and has to really work for all that he gets.
There were a few characters I really liked, but one I will highlight is Peshka. I appreciate his habit of twirling his mustache to the point of the hairs breaking off. What makes this stand out to me is that all my life I have had an impulse control issue of twirling my hair, which progressed to the point of forming bald spots from so much hair breakage in certain areas. So this guy has a real issue that some of us face but we don't see it mentioned really anywhere outside of certain mental health circles. I liked the inclusion of this characteristic.
At first, when the POV began changing regularly, I was disconcerted and didn't like it. But it grew on me quickly, as it gave a really meaningful look into several characters and perspectives of the plot. It provided a variety of scenes to play out, even following some to death in various ways. It was a very useful writing tactic for this book.
A part that I didn't love was the MCs arc about 80% in; the stakes are heightened in a new trajectory that I guess I just don't like because I don't like the extreme conflict that it was clearly going to create. Still, overall, I ended the book feeling really pleased to have read it!
The artwork throughout the book is fantastic as well. It's great art, and it helped draw me more into the story.
Bravo to the author, and thanks for the good time.
Decided to try a slightly different type of book to read (fanstasy that has a FMC or romance in the plot) and this nailed it!
Instead of a ton of world building, the book gets right into the story making it a quicker read. I feel it doesn’t take away from the story though.
Multiple POVs help give a first hand view of the battle. This seems where the focus lands. It makes me want to know more about Malfus and the Inquisitor.
I do like the change in pace and reading on a plot set to the battle at hand but I find myself trying to reach for more about the characters themselves.
This is a great read!
A crazy, wild, and fun ride of a story!! Action from the start to end. Casey Sutton is a gifted story teller. I look forward to reading other stories he has.
Thank you #NetGalley for #Malfu:NecromancerUnchained
This was an interesting and engaging fantasy book. Our main character, Malfus, is a Necromancer (if you couldn't guess from the title). Necromancy is forbidden and he was captured by an Inquisitor and is being taken to be tortured by them.
During their travels, they have to take shelter from a gnoll attack (big beasties) in a fort in the middle of nowhere. The fort is under siege from the gnolls - oh, and they have a giant or 2. Malfus needs to raise an army of the dead in order to save the fort, but maybe he'll just run away and leave them all to die.
The story was very creative. The story takes place almost entirely during the few days at the fort. It worked very well and was a change from stories that cover months or years. It also was unique, which is hard to do in the world of fantasy and even within the world of necromancers. Malfus was an interesting character and I enjoyed that he was a giant coward and just wanted to run away from everything. It was a great change from the standard hero trope. The story is told from multiple points of view and overall, it worked (which is so often not the case). The art is fabulous - there are a few pictures throughout the book and they're beautiful.
Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for this advance review copy.