The Battlemage — “Summoner” Series


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Book Review

The Battlemage by Taran Matharu is the third book in the “Summoner” series.

Plot Summary

Fletcher Raleigh, his mother, Alice, and his friends Sylva, Othello, Cress and their demons escaped the orc pyramid by opening a portal that led into the ether, the parallel world where the demons are from. They land in water and pull themselves onto what they think is a floating island. But they soon discover that it is a zaratan, a giant turtle-like demon.

They name the demon Sheldon and decide to stay aboard his shell until they figure a way out of the ether and back to Hominum. While riding on Sheldon’s back, the team is attacked by large, dangerous demons that live in the ether. They are also pursued by the orcs who also entered the ether from their temple portal.

The team won’t be able to survive in the ether’s noxious gases unless they replenish and ingest a special flower petal. Sheldon leaves the river and begins to migrate over land. The team, still traveling on his massive shell, takes turns hunting and scouting for the flower petals.

Sylva has adopted Lysander as her new demon, and she and Fletcher leave the team to fly to a distant volcano. There they find the right flowers. At the volcano, Fletcher’s demon, Ignatius, swims in the lava and transforms into a dragon-like demon called a drake.

The orcs find Fletcher and Sylva while they are harvesting the petals. Fletcher distracts the orcs so Sylva can escape, but the large albino orc, Khan, wants Ignatius and is determined to kill Fletcher to get the demon. Fletcher flies away on Ignatius and evades Khan, but when he rejoins the team, there is a fierce battle with orcs already underway. Sheldon is killed.

The team flies their way through the ether until they find a portal leading to Hominum. They are overjoyed to be back, until they learn they have been accused of being traitors and Hominum is on the brink of a civil war. The old king, Alfric, and a group of nobles have instigated the war. The Forsyths, Alfric, Didric and others planted bombs that have been killing humans and framing the dwarfs and their supporters for the attacks to turn the people of Hominum against dwarfs.

King Harold takes Alice, who was injured, to the best doctors for care. Fletcher and his friends go into hiding, but with Harold’s help, they devise a plan. Fletcher and Sylva disguise themselves and sneak into a ball in the castle. Sylva uses a demon and technology to broadcast the truth to the entire country about what happened on the mission and how Jeffrey sabotaged the mission at the direction of the Forsyths.

Zacharius Forsyth and Inquisitor Rook are arrested, and the humans in Hominum know that the dwarves haven’t been detonating bombs across the country. Dwarf soldiers, who have been training, now pledge allegiance to King Harold and Hominum, averting a civil war.

Fletcher reunites with his father, Berdon, and takes refugees to their new home in Raleighshire. The new townspeople work to rebuild, while Fletcher works to train his small army. When Fletcher’s army, the Foxes, go to the border to relieve the soldiers who have been on guard, they find most of the men dead, killed by the orcs’ goblins.

Goblins attack Fletcher’s army, but they get aid from gremlins, led by Blue, who is moving all the gremlins out of orc territory. Blue tells Fletcher that while the orcs are attacking the border at Raleighshire, they are also currently attacking the front lines. If the orcs get in at Raleighshire’s border, they will attack Hominum’s army from behind. The goblins they just fought and killed were scouts, but the orc army is on the way.

As Fletcher prepares his small army to defend the border against thousands of goblins and orc mages, he sends messages to King Harold asking for help. The Foxes, with the help of a small group of gremlin fighters, hold the border for a time. They are heavily outnumbered, and soon they must retreat, taking the rest of the gremlins and the townspeople with them.

The enemy surrounds Fletcher’s group of fighters. All seems lost, but then dwarf soldiers race in to help. Many of Hominum’s soldiers, including Atilla, Rotherham, Sir Caulder and Rory, die in battle. Cress tells Fletcher that King Harold needs him at the front lines.

Fletcher mounts Ignatius and flies off. In the air, he meets Sylva riding Lysander, and she tells him that Khan has been riding a dragon that has been wreaking havoc on the front lines. The only demon who can fight the dragon is Ignatius, Fletcher’s drake.

Fletcher engages Khan in the air, and they fight, crashing through a glass ceiling at Vocans Academy. Khan’s dragon is dead, and Ignatius is badly hurt. Sylva fell with them, but Ignatius caught her. Khan and Fletcher fight, and Khan severely beats Fletcher. But then Silva helps distract Khan so Fletcher can behead him. The orcs flee back to their territory after the death of their leader.

A month later, Fletcher is back in Raleighshire and attending Arcturus and Lovett’s wedding. Sylva is there too, but she tells Fletcher that she has to go help protect the southern border from raiding orcs. She kisses him on the lips and leaves, promising to visit him. Berdon arrives in Raleighshire with Alice, Fletcher’s mother. For the first time, Alice’s eyes are clear, and she recognizes Fletcher. They embrace and cry joyful tears and walk toward the restored Raleigh mansion, their once and future home.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

Khan is the orcs’ religious leader and believes that he is a prophesized savior of his people. Khan tells Fletcher that he is the redeemer and the chosen one. After Khan dies, the orc army flees the battle, no longer believing in the prophecy.

In the ether, Fletcher and Sylva find a ruin of a temple that they think was built for long-forgotten gods. In the temple, they find statues of a merman, a selkie, a satyr, a centaur, a giant and a fairy. The creatures are from folklore and not supposed to be real. There is also a statue of an angel from the creation story of Hominum’s religion, a religion that is little more than old stories that leave a vague concept of heaven and hell. The priests still preach and the old go to church, but the intricacies of sins and covenants were beyond Fletcher’s comprehension.

Fletcher once heard that a summoner’s soul lives on through their demons, that their consciousnesses merges upon death. After Atilla dies, his demon goes to Ignatius and heals the drake’s many injuries. The church in Raleighshire is restored and used as a dining hall and meeting place.

Authority Roles

Even though he was separated from his parents when he was a baby, Fletcher learns that his parents loved him very much. Alice is traumatized from being an orc prisoner for many years, and Fletcher takes care of her before he has to turn her care over to doctors. She eventually regains her sanity and is overjoyed to be reunited with her son. Berdon remains a loving adoptive father who is very supportive of Fletcher. Arcturus also remains supportive of Fletcher, like an older brother, even though they are not related by blood.

Fletcher and Sylva uncover a conspiracy that involves the old king, Alfric, but they can’t take their findings to the authorities because the authorities are involved. Zacharias admits that he was the one who betrayed Fletcher’s father, Edmund. Zacharias sent a message to the orcs, telling them about the secret passage into Raleighshire. With Fletcher’s parents presumed dead, Zacharias’ wife, who is also Fletcher’s aunt, inherited the Raleigh’s land and wealth. Zacharias tries killing Fletcher, too.

Harold is king in name alone as his father, Alfric, is in control of the country. Alfric is scheming, hateful and underhanded. He hates all races except humans and is involved in a conspiracy with other nobles to kill the dwarves and start a war with the elves. As much as Harold despises what Alfric is doing, he refuses to kill his father or have him killed.

Profanity & Violence

Profanity includes h— used alone and with what the and bloody. D—n is used alone and with God. Swearing includes heaven help us and crap. Name calling includes b–tard, git and race traitor. The violence, blood and gore depicted in the novel are graphic.

After Fletcher and his team go into the ether, different species of demons attack them. Fletcher hunts and kills a large, buffalo-like demon and details how the animal is butchered and skinned. Fletcher and Ignatius try to outfly the orcs and their demons but lead them into a trap instead. The orcs are eaten by other demons.

Sheldon dies defending the team. Fletcher uses magic to fight Rook and Zacharias Forsyth. The Foxes undergo strenuous training and spar with each other. A pet fox is beaten to death against a tree. Fletcher’s team finds soldiers dead and one who is naked and was tortured by goblins. The battles with the goblins and the orcs are prolonged, brutal and bloody. There are many deaths from gunfire, blades, hand-to-hand combat, demon attacks, bombs, fire and magic. There are decapitations, and a gremlin makes a necklace of goblin ears. Bodies are piled up to mountainous heights.

Khan taunts Fletcher that, while Alice was in orc captivity, she was like a dog that they fed on scraps. She barked for them and slept in her own filth. They beat her for the joy of it until she lost her senses. Then they beat her more. Khan says he pisses on her memory. In the final fight, Khan beats Fletcher badly. Sylva distracts Khan, who tries to choke her to death, until Fletcher beheads him.

Sexual Content

Sylva and Fletcher have romantic feelings for each other, and the two kiss a few times. Sylva tells Fletcher that elves of different castes were forbidden to have romantic relationships, and she can’t go against her culture to have a relationship with him. Fletcher’s feelings are hurt. After the battle with the orcs, Sylva kisses Fletcher on the lips and tells him that she will visit him. Rory and Genevieve hold hands. Arcturus marries Lovett, a female instructor whom he worked with at Vocans Academy.

Zaratans migrate annually to breed and lay eggs. When the team realizes that Sheldon is migrating, Cress calls him a horny devil in search of a missus. After Sheldon dies, Cress hopes he found a nice lady friend and that there will be little Sheldons running around someday.

One of Fletcher’s human soldiers taunts a female elf that both humans and elves look the same in the dark. She retaliates by holding a knife to his head and offering to sharpen his ears.

Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments

Alcohol: Fletcher is offered beer at one event and wine at another. Revelers get drunk at a ball and at a wedding.

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