Reviews for The Summoner

Fantasy readers craving a good quest with an interesting cast of characters will find page-turning fun in Gail Z. Martin’s The Summoner. The strengths of this book are its good pace, realistic action, pleasing use of supernatural and magical elements, and a tight plot. The action does not lag and the story progresses comfortably. The fight scenes are exciting and plausible. It has well paced quest action and adventure that does not allow the reader to get bored within a competently constructed narrative.–Fantasy Book Review

The ingredients of this tale — reluctant hero, destinies to be fulfilled, hitherto unknown magical powers — are all familiar components to fantasy readers… What saves it from blandness is the sheer enthusiasm of its author, who launches herself into the adventure with whole-hearted passion. — Sandy Auden, SFX

The Summoner, book one of the Chronicles of the Necromancer is an intriguing start to a new fantasy series. While there is much here that harkens back to some of the most recognizable tenets of high fantasy, Gail Martin has brought some new ideas into play. I feel that this could develop into a marvelous new series.

Prince Martris Drayke has just witnessed his half brother’s violent overthrow of their father’s kingdom. Along with his evil sorcerous cohort, Foor Arontala, Jared now rules the kingdom and Tris is on the run. Watching his back and keeping him company are two soldiers and his friend the court bard. Tris has to find a way to get to his uncle’s kingdom, which will offer him asylum as well as a safe base to operate from as he must remove Jared from power before he destroys the kingdom. The trip is a perilous one as Jared has mercenaries out to find him and bring him back. All the while he has to deal with the dreams of the ghosts of his sister and grandmother. These dreams seem to have meaning, however. Unbeknownst to Tris, he has inherited the talents of his sorcerous grandmother and is now the only Summoner in the land. While he may have the raw talent, he doesn’t have the knowledge or the skills to go with it. As a Summoner, he is the only person who can help troubled spirits cross over into the spirit world instead of haunting the world of the living. Without the teaching he should have had from his grandmother, he must deal with these spirits as best he can.

Chased by slavers and mercenaries, Tris has only a few things on his side. He has the safe haven he’s running to and the aid and skills of his friends and some new ones he makes along the way. Secret identities, ghosts and vampires seem to follow this group wherever they go. Will they make it alive? Will Tris be able to control the spirits they encounter? Are the vampires truly on their side? You’ll find out as you get to the end. And I’ll be picking up the next book to see where they go from here. — Dwndrgn

I couldn’t help but like The Summoner. A lot of that has to do with the way the novel is written… The Summoner is consistently composed, easy to get into and reads very quickly. Plus, because of the exuberant manner in which the story is told – it’s obvious that Gail Z. Martin is a huge fantasy fan – The Summoner is hard not to like… It offers plenty of sword & sorcery action, and is of the more family-friendly variety… The Summoner is definitely worth picking up.–Fantasy Book Critic

When Prince Martris Drayke’s older brother, Jared, decides to preempt his inheritance by murdering their father and seizing the throne, Martris and a few companions flee to a place of safety where they hope to restore justice to the kingdom. Despite his efforts, he finds few among the living who are willing to stand beside him, so he turns to another group he trusts to aid him: the spirits of the dead. Martin’s first novel, a series opener, presents a beleaguered hero with a unique gift of communicating with the dead. One of the key launch novels for the Solaris imprint of BL Publishing, this fantasy adventure belongs in most libraries.–Jackie Cassada, Library Journal  

…It only took the reading of a few pages before I began to believe in Martin’s well-developed fantasy world and in her ability to lead her readers through it with an enchanting grace that obscures the fact that this is her first published novel.

… we can be thankful for this breath of new life Martin has summoned into the fantasy genre.  After the first few pages, I thought the author’s greatest strengths were a knack for character development and the creation of splendid settings.  I was wrong.  As I progressed through the tale, I soon found myself adding to my initial list of the author’s skills, admitting gladly that Martin’s command of foreshadowing, suspense, and intricate plot development are also noteworthy.  The world, the characters that populate it, the social structures, and the laws of magic are all well conceived and skillfully presented by the author…If The Summoner is indicative of what adventures lie ahead in this series, Gail Z. Martin is certain to keep her readers entranced from page one to the finale. –James K. Bowers, Kankakee Journal

Attractive characters and an imaginative setting combine in an excellent, fast-moving quest novel.David Drake, Author of Some Golden Harbor, Other Times Than Peace

A gripping quest narrative made all the more atmospheric by the imminent presence of a shadow world of spirits and dark magic. Just when you think you know where things are heading, Martin pulls another ace from her sleeve.  A rich, evocative story with vivid, believable characters moving through a beautifully realized world with all the quirks, depths and levels of a real place. A terrific read!-A.J. Hartley, Author, The Mask of Atreus and On The Fifth Day

 Ongoing adventure that holds the reader’s interest.Hilary Williamson, BookLoons 

The Summoner has its roots very firmly in the traditional sword and sorcery, and quest camps of fantasy…Many fantasy fans and fantasy role games players will enjoy The Summoner hugely.– Jonathan Cowie, Concatenation

This fantasy was one of the most enjoyable books I have read in the genre for a long time. This is her debut novel and I can’t wait for the next book to come out. I could not put it down. I stayed up late into the night to finish it.– Karin,—(March 2) Rating: 4 Stars

Gail Z. Martin has a good grasp of pacing, and tells a fast-paced tale laced with plenty of action. The medieval milieu is convincingly detailed, and the characters… are believable in their goals and motivations. — SF Site

This is Gail Z. Martin’s debut into the world of fantasy and an excellent stepping stone for further chronicles to come.  While this may be her commercial plunge into the world of fantasy, Gail has been writing since the tender age of 14 and has proven fantasy is definitely her forte.

The ghostly dimension of the afterlife is ever present in this tale of heartbreak, courage and retribution.  After a devastating loss of family, Tris must seek the power within and courage to summon those that have passed from this world to the next to help those wandering souls find peace.  He communicates with his guides to help him on his quest to restore his family’s honour.  The Summoner is a tale of friendship and examines the bonds that aren’t severed by the finality of death.  Tris and his companions are met with a myriad of hurdles, but together they overcome and conquer those in their path for the truth.

Complex and believable characters will have you supporting their crusade for justice from the very first pages.  You will believe communicating with those passed is possible and believe it is possible to harness magic within.  The Summoner is a fast paced, gripping read that will make it hard for you to put it down.  Gail’s original story writing is fantasy at its best.  I can’t wait to read Book 2 of the Chronicles of the Necromancer. Bring it on!– Natalie Cain, Dark Animus

Martris’ powers of necromancy and his interactions with ghosts along the way are a good touch…the prose is competent and certainly a cut above…if not outstanding in its own right.–Justin, Fantasy Book Critic

The Summoner is a pleasant and enjoyable read that any lover of fantasy should enjoy. The characters are well developed and the story line is solid.–Victoria Kennedy, Midwest Book Review

It’s comfort food for the Big Fat Fantasy (BFF) soul. It’s like wrapping yourself up in an old warm fuzzy blanket on a chilly day. Fun, comfortable, and relaxing. It must be said that it is well-written: the characters are likeable and easy to empathize with, the dialogue is often witty, the plot moves forward with alacrity, and there are some good bits of humor. It has in it just about everything that BFF fans want: swashbuckling, magic, quests, young men coming of age, young women coming of age, and hints of romance. Something for everyone. This is a good new entry of the form.–Karen Burnham, Spiral Galaxy Book Review

  Looking for a story that breathes new life into epic fantasy?  Then look no further… Filled with ghosts, slavers, fights and a touch of romance, this novel has something for everyone. –Jessica Stachowski, WBBS Sci-Fi Fan Letter Issue 10 (World’s Biggest Bookstore, Toronto, Canada)

 The Summoner by Gail Z. Martin is book one of The Chronicles of the Necromancer, an epic fantasy that has all the elements of a great story. The story itself is, as with all epic fantasy, of course, simple, and is passed on to the reader through a wonderful example of storytelling… Gail Martin spins a fast paced adventure of a prince who finds he is much more than he believes, and brings together a variety of characters that seem to have been caught up in coincidence but find that divine providence may be the real reason.  Gail tells the story with a refreshing breath of zeal that lets you get carried along for the ride… The interplay between the characters had me laughing at many places, a bitingly sarcastic humor most everyone enjoys, and some spots came sort of close to choking me up… It is damn fine epic fantasy; with a big, overarching story and smaller subplots that introduce a vibrant world; colorful and deep characters that are changing right before your eyes. I recommend this story to any that enjoy a good book, no matter the genre, and to those who indulge in sword and sorcery, high fantasy.–Epheros 

There are many words that can describe this book but only one seems suitable and that word is perfection. Gail Z. Martin delivers a superb storyline that never slows down and contains all the elements of a great fantasy novel. It flows smoothly and comes together like no other fantasy I’ve read. Her system of magic is easily understandable and it by no means overwhelms the reader. Every character seems real and believable, almost as if the reader were in the novel itself. Each has their own personality and traits that make them unique and stand out from the others.Chronicles of the Necromancer promises to be an amazing series and ranks among one of the best fantasy series I have ever read. If you are a fantasy enthusiast or are just looking for an enjoyable read don’t be shy to pick up this book.–Internet Book List

With a book cover this gorgeous, I had high expectations from the start. And I’m happy to say that I was more than impressed.  I loved this story from beginning to end. Packed with suspense, excitement, and colorful characters, The Summoner is a true epic fantasy. Gail Martin has done a wonderful job of taking well-known story elements and infusing them into a truly magical tale.–SciFiChick 

Anyone who likes Fantasy books should like this. Solid story with great people. This would make a great beach read. You can just read and enjoy.–Bonnie—Live, Love, Read

 This is a well-written, enjoyable fantasy tale that moves at breakneck pace. It’s engrossing and very, very good. I look forward to Book Two ‘The Blood King’.–Shadowcat Book Review 

This was a very nice, refreshing fantasy novel from a relatively new face. It’s the first in the series “Chronicles of the Necromancer,” and I’m very much so waiting for the next to release. The plot has some serious twists and turns…But I’ll tell you that the author describes the necromancer in a whole different (and in my opinion, better way) than what I was used to; this necromancer isn’t out to end the world. I also found the pages flying by. (Maybe the clock, too, but I wasn’t counting). The story is easy to follow and well-paced, even with the new concepts being brought in, and the characters will become quite memorable at the end of this novel. Read it. Do it!–Nidael, Tangled Web

 The Summoner is the start of a fantasy series that will keep you spellbound.  The book is nearly impossible to put down because it is filled with all the elements necessary for any good fantasy story: kings and kingdoms; princes and princesses; dark sorcerers and white magic; strange beasts, lands and characters; spirits and battles; evil lurking and danger around everywhere; family strife and loyal friends; and, of course, love and loss.  Gail Z. Martin does a wonderful job capturing your imagination and firmly holding on.  Gail Z. Martin has created engaging characters that you can understand, relate to and either love or hate.  The Summoner is easy to read and, as in depth and convoluted as the story gets, it is never hard to follow or understand.  It truly is a book well worth reading if you appreciate fantasy literature.  You will be counting down the days until the second book is published because the excitement and anticipation is unbearable!  Armchair Interviews says: If you love fantasy, this is for you.–Jennifer Johnson, Armchair Interviews

This is a THICK book, but I never grew bored, not once. Hand-to-hand combat, necromancy, goddesses, good and bad spirits, magical combat, betrayal… I cannot begin to describe all the different elements that the author, Gail Z. Martin, has spun together to create this outstanding tapestry. The book ends in, what I believe to be, the perfect place. When I finished reading the last page and closed the book, I sat for several minutes just thinking it all. I am in awe of this author’s talents and have to wonder if she may be a sorceress herself. In a word, “PERFECT!” –Detra Fitch, Huntress Reviews

It’s been a long, long time since an author had me so eager to read that I actually hid myself away for the chance to pick up the book again and Mrs. Martin has done that and more. Very rarely do I actually seek out an Author to gush about how much I enjoyed their work. Gail however has turned out to be easily approachable and immensely friendly in every aspect. If you are any sort of fan of High Fantasy and lovingly crafted characters I highly recommend The Summoner and its sequel.–The Threefold Path

Martin delivers. Her characters are all likeable with plenty of depth. Tris is a protagonist you can really root for, while Kiara is a strong female lead with real spirit. Vahanian is perfect as the dark horse mercenary-come-good, while Arontala makes for a convincing villain. Martin’s writing is another strong point; her prose is fluid with sharp, convincing dialogue. It may be her debut novel, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was her tenth, as she writes with such an engaging style. Striking a good balance between description and action, the atmosphere of her world is allowed to grow without becoming too intrusive: the focus is always on the characters and their actions. The strongest point of the story itself is the way spirit magic is used and the effects it has on Tris. Magic is a tricky subject to get right, but Martin manages to create a feasible system that manages to be both plausible and intriguing at the same time. I particularly liked the emphasis on the undead in the novel, and the importance of spirits to the plot was, at least in my experience, a fresh twist. The presence of the vayash moru (that’s vampires to you and me) was also a welcome addition. The Summoner is a surprising triumph… you’ll find an enjoyable adventure with colourful characters and plenty of the elements that make fantasy so damned good in the first place.–J.G. Thomas, Speculative Horizons