This story is an exciting fantasy that combines elements of magic with a complex war on drugs that has an insidious effect on the society of Maradaine. The fragile balance between those who have divided up the town is in flux due to the events that took place immediately prior, and alliances and territories are being renegotiated, and not necessarily for the better. The author does a great job of providing the flavor of different aspects of society as the struggles for life itself are contrasted with the struggles for acceptance and mastery of one’s chosen profession and the differences between the two blur. I love the wonderfully exciting fights that can involved physical or magical weaponry and the introduction of the mysterious assassins adds another intriguing dimension. There is a little bit of awkwardness as the students seem to be far more astute than those who are purportedly their masters but one can’t deny that it is satisfying to watch those who have been discounted finally start reaping the accolades they deserve.
Veranix is starting to develop a little more maturity of character and his friends are certainly displaying that they deserve to be in the fight just as much as he does. There are definitely strings left dangling and I think that it will be much better if you are familiar with at least the previous title in this series (apparently there is also a companion series set in this world, but I haven’t read those titles), but there is enough of a background that one can figure out the basics. This is a fun and exciting fantasy story that highlights the author’s imagination and dexterity at creating a compelling adventure story and I can’t wait to find out what else is in store for Veranix and his friends and associates!
“The Alchemy of Chaos” by Marshall Ryan Maresca is part of the ‘Maradaine’ series and picks up the action right after the ending of “The Thorn of Dentonhill”, as Veranix tries to finish his pivotal exams while keeping an eye on the upheaval he has caused in his quest to eliminate the distribution of the deadly drug effite. Unfortunately, attacks are escalating both on Veranix and his alternate identity, with serious efforts that may end both the college and the Thorn.
Veranix Calbert is The Thorn—the street vigilante-turned-legend—and a danger to Willem Fenmere, the drug kingpin of Dentonhill. Veranix is determined to stop Fenmere and the effitte drug trade, especially when he discovers that Fenmere is planning on using the Red Rabbits gang in his neighborhood. But Veranix is also a magic student at the University of Maradaine, and it's exam week. With his academic career riding on his performance, there's no time to go after Fenmere or the Red Rabbits. But when a series of pranks on campus grow deadly, it's clear that someone has a vendetta against the university, and Veranix may be the only one who can stop them...