May 29, 2010: I enjoy "Tin Man: Diary of a Necromancer" for the complexity. First, the worldbuilding is beautifully done, with many distinctive guilds and families displaying their skills, quirks, and cultures. Multiple flavors of magic coexist and sometimes conflict. Both the mood and morality are shadowplays of light and dark, changing in an instant from dire to whimsical and back again.
The characters are as intricate as their surroundings. Robling Tremare is a necromancer. To be sure he has his dark side, as all people do, but he’s the sweetest of necromancers I’ve read—the whole conceptualization of necromancy in this world hinges on the balance between life and death, very elegantly done. Robling has lived through at least three major life phases: before, during, and after his time at the Tremare stronghold of necromancers. All of those phases have shaped him with joy and grief, layer upon layer that gradually come clear as the story progresses. He searches for answers about what really destroyed Tremare, and for justice, and none of that is easy on him. But he suffers beautifully.
Robling’s golem is a fascinating and original rendition of a traditional motif. It’s a suit of armor animated by Robling’s magic, tightly connected to him, and imbued with rather more personality than is convenient. It seems to have started with a piece of his subconscious, but it’s developing more individuality over time. It responds to Robling’s emotions, yet also has its own.
Liane Sharpshaft is a mercenary, mainly relying on archery enhanced with magic. She winds up doing a lot more to keep Robling alive and well, beyond plain old bodyguard work. Her cheerful nature also makes a good counterbalance for his battered gloom.
The story weaves themes of good and evil, justice, loyalty, love, and adventure. Things are rarely straightforward. What seems like a simple approach is quickly complicated by unforeseen factors. While there are many familiar motifs from fantasy and horror in this story, they are arranged in fresh and interesting ways. Follow along . . . just don’t assume that everything is going the way it seems.
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