Jun 15 2012

A Review of Hammer of Witches by Niall Teasdale

Today I will be reviewing the sixth book in the Thaumatology series by Niall Teasdale, Hammer of Witches. I reviewed the first book,  Thaumatology 101, here. The second, Demon’s Moon was reviewed here. The third book in the series, Legacy, that review is here. The first collection of short stories from this universe called Tales from High Towers’ Study is here.  The fourth book in the series, Dragon’s Blood is reviewed here. And the review of the fifth book in the series, Disturbia is reviewed here. Lastly, the second collection of short stories, Tales from the Dubh Linn, was reviewed here too.

Hammer of Witches by Niall Teasdale

Hammer of Witches by Niall Teasdale

This, the sixth book in the series, is the story of:

Ceri Brent and Lily Carpenter, a sorceress and a half-succubus, are new to police work after becoming Special Advisors to the Greycoats, but when Ceri and her werewolf mate, Michael, find a charred corpse she finds herself frozen out of the investigation. As the bodies pile up they begin to investigate anyway, especially when their friends are threatened by the Witch Hunter’s widening list of criminals to be tried, convicted, and burned alive.

But the Witch Hunter appears to have divine help and Ceri’s faith will be tested to the limit before he can be finally brought to justice. What can a girl who stopped going to church at the age of seven have faith in when the country is invaded by angels?

If there is one thing that the Thaumatology series has it is a sense of history. There is personal history in the characters of course, but also a very detailed world history that helps to set and focus the overall plot arc of the series. This book relies heavily upon what has been touched on before and then leads you into events that would wouldn’t expect.

One of these is the religious past and present of this universe. There has been some light reference made to what happened when the history here diverted from that we know and in this story those changes direct much of the action here. I think the way that beliefs, in all of their forms, are used to define not just the characters in the series, but also the countries and governments brings up a lot of questions that aren’t answered fully here.

It’s not a spoiler to note that angels appear in this story, the plot summary tells us that. What I found interesting was what the angels represented, each in their own way, and how they are different to each other. One angel in particular is a mystery and that mystery is something to consider as the story progresses.

One of the things that I thought was a nice touch was the characters referring to events that appeared in the author’s Tales from High Towers Study collection. It helped to give them all more of a past and a shared relationship which always is a good thing. If you have read this work, then the references will make a bit more sense, but, you don’t need to have read that work. Still, I think it would be a good idea to do so as it answers a lot of questions.

But one question, and it has to do with someone that Ceri met in her darkest moments, remains and becomes entangled into the story and Ceri’s life. The foreshadowing of that event, of that being, is important to note and to remember it.

One moment made me laugh, that being when Lily received her Christmas present, and it made me giggle. I’m sure that the author will know what I am referring to. As well, at one point, Lily wears a Halloween outfit that I think is delicious, although her footwear choice made me wince a bit.

Ceri faces a lot of hardships again in this work and I have to wonder when all of the things that she has seen, felt, and been part of will catch up to her. I understand that here has to be a certain amount of jeopardy for Ceri, she is the heroine of course, but, as noted in the story, they do wonder why their lives have so much going on.

I felt that the continued growth of many of the characters other than Ceri and Lily was well done as well. Relationships begin, others are transformed, and still more come to a realization or understanding. That’s not to say that Ceri and Lily’s relationship doesn’t have its moments, far from it. There is a moment where a secret is revealed and that changes their dynamic a bit. There are also moments where Ceri finds truths she didn’t understand, or see, or she makes others see them. All of this makes the characters move on in their lives a bit more, become more than they were, and, in the end, cements them all as a group that belong together.

I mentioned foreshadowing, and in this work off hand comments are made that are obviously to allow a link to future stories in the series. There is also a certain undertone of menace from the government, concerns from the police, and worry from Ceri’s friends. Ceri, being who she is, just wants the best for those she cares about and while sometimes she is walking against the wind, she fights the good fight.

A very good addition to this universe, I liked the story very much, but there are so many things to wonder about that I can’t spoil here. But suffice it to say that Ceri’s past remains a mystery, her powers are… different, or becoming so, and where the story goes from here makes me want to get to the next story as soon as I can…

The additional story at the end of this work, Housemates, lets us see just what Ceri was like before Lily appeared. It is the first moment when they met and while it doesn’t reveal everything about them, it does explain how it was that Lily came to find Ceri. Not only that, but it also is a shocking view of Ceri’s life “before Lily” and, really, Lily is the catalyst for all of the better things that have happened to Ceri since.

There is some sadness in the story, but then at this point in Ceri’s life, there wasn’t anything happy in it. But as the story comes to a close and Lily’s personality begins to rub off on Ceri, you can see that things were meant to be and it is a wonderful thing to know where everything started from.

Well written, but then I wouldn’t expect anything less from Niall. Really an engrossing work and I’ll give it five pitchforks out of five.

Within the next few weeks, the next book in the series, Eagle’s Shadow will appear. I am curious to see where all of the hints and characters that appeared in this work lead to in the next one. Two of them in particular I think will be aiming for Ceri directly and I am not quite sure how she will get out of that… if it happens as I think it might…



1 comment

  1. avatar

    It is interesting, Majesty, how the open questions in these stories both bother and intrigue you.

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