Alchemy of Chaos, by Marshall Ryan Maresca

Alchemy of Chaos, by Marshall Ryan Maresca book coverGenre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Daw Books
Published: 2016
Reviewer Rating: four stars
Book Review by Joshua Palmatier

Have you read this book?
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)


This is the second novel of Maradaine that features Veranix Calbert, otherwise known of as the Thorn, who’s a student of magic at the local university by day and a crime-fighting superhero at night. I enjoyed both books and look forward to the next.

Premise: Veranix has ticked off the local crime lord selling the drug effitte and is now this lord’s number one target, enough that he’s willing to pay a local assassins guild a good deal of money to see not only Veranix killed, but taken down in a spectacular way. At the same time, the drug lord is using one of the local gangs to infiltrate the area Veranix has sworn to protect near the university. Plus, it’s exam week. Veranix is being pulled in too many directions at once, which is only compounded when someone at the university begins a series of pranks that escalate quickly into something more serious and deadly. Can Veranix stop the drug lord, dodge the flamboyant assassins sent to kill him, find out who’s causing the pranks on campus, and pass his exams? Not without the help of some old friends … and some new.

Again, I’ve enjoyed this series so far, mostly because this is really just good old fashioned fun. Veranix is basically a superhero in a fantasy setting and following his exploits is like reading a comic book. Maradaine is a fully realized city and world unto itself (with another set of books with different characters as the focus set in the same city), with plenty of room left for exploration beyond even the three books currently released. Veranix himself is fun to watch as he attempts to fight the drug trade using his own magic and a magical cloak and rope he’s found, but he wouldn’t be able to pull it all off without the help of numerous friends both at the university and in the gangs that rule the streets in Dentonhill. The fact that he isn’t all-powerful and is actually perhaps too impulsive makes him funny and interesting and also gets him into more scrapes than he probably should be in. Again, this is all part of the comic book appeal of this series.

Overall, this is simply a fun, light, entertaining read with some humorous characters that into unbelievable but hilarious situations that often have serious consequences for the characters and the world. If you’re looking for some adventure with a standard fantasy setting and a twist of superhero thrown in, then check out this series.

Liked it? Take a second to support SFReader on Patreon!

Leave a Reply