Radiance: The Necromancer’s Light – Tavia Lark
He’ll die without touch.
As a necromancer, Shae loses a little more of himself every time he uses his magic. Always cold, always touch-starved, the only thing that helps is human contact. But that’s hard to come by when those same dark powers scare everyone away from him. Nobody likes a necromancer.
Especially a paladin of the Radiant Order.
Arthur’s still bitter and broken after his last lover stabbed him in the back, and the last thing he needs is another brush with evil. When he agrees to escort the wandering necromancer north, he’s just doing a public service.
But he never expected Shae to be so clingy. Or distractingly attractive.
Shae has never felt an aura as warm and safe as Arthur’s. He craves the man’s touch—and more. But everyone he’s ever known has left him, and it’s just a matter of time before Arthur leaves him too.
Assuming the soul-stealing monsters don’t kill them first.
The Necromancer’s Light is a gay fantasy romance, with magic, hurt/comfort, and bed sharing for Reasons. First in a series but can be read alone. 56,000 words, HEA guaranteed.
When I was in college, I was introduced to the Dragonlance books, and predictably, I was drawn to the anti-hero Raistlin. His twin was the golden boy, and so blah, I didn’t bother with him (couldn’t even remember the name).
The Necromancer’s Light opens the fantasy series, Radiance by new-to-me author Tavia Lark. The titular character, Shae Nightven, reminded me of Raistlin. Too pale, too thin, and wrestling with the temptation to give himself up totally to dark powers.
Rather than a twin, Shae is paired with golden boy and devout paladin, Arthur Davorin. Happily, Arthur is much more memorable, an all-around sweetheart who couldn’t resist taking care of prickly marshmallow Shae. The book is told in their dual POV.
The plot is a quest to slay the demon that played a pivotal role in Shae’s tragic past. He has to travel north to his hometown. To do this, the necromancer has to employ a bodyguard because he needs human contact to replenish his soul. He hires Arthur, who is currently in exile, as penance for a crime his ex-lover committed against the Order.
There is a play of opposites, as well as themes of religion, betrayal, appearances and building trust. Necromancers acquire their powers by dealing with a demon, while paladins worship the Goddess and her light. People are afraid of necromancers and welcome members of the Radiant Order with open arms.
Shae is dark and perpetually cold because his magic saps his soul. Arthur has an aura that glows as bright as the sun and has the warmth that Shae craves. And Arthur is very much willing to give, which means lotsa bed sharing!
The world-building is executed adequately with minimal info-dumps. However, they only scratched the surface of some elements, such as the Radiant Order, guilds, the lay of the land, pantheons, and the different magic systems. The spot-on pacing and great writing did the trick of keeping me engaged because they kept the momentum going, even with flashbacks and internal dialogues.
LOVED how the romance blossomed! Our golden boy is true as an arrow and kept coming back for his prickly marshmallow. There was one frustrating moment where our necromancer let his insecurities get the better of him, but I totally feel for Shae. Because after a decade of being shunned, double-crossed, and reviled, I’d have massive trust issues too.
Usually the necromancer is the villain, so I am beyond thrilled to peek inside their head and the inner workings of their magic. It’s nasty business, and I hoped Shae washed his hands after. Sadly, there’s no mentioned of this after he stuck his hands inside a week-old corpse. But germs aside, it’s fascinating stuff! And the darkness tempting him makes it even more exciting!
The Necromancer’s Light is a magical adventure, a single-minded quest for atonement, and a sweet hurt-comfort love story between two men with traumatic pasts. All in all, well-written, fun, and cuddly!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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