A bungled murder.
A ridiculous quest.
And a hero with extremely dodgy credentials.
Christmas 1889. Count Balthazar Jozsef Habsburg-Koháry tries to lead a simple life.
Oh, he enjoys a few hobbies.
Collecting ancient Egyptian artifacts. Hunting necromancers with a wire garrote. Impersonating dead Hungarian nobility. Seducing an endless string of women who never suspect the price of the count’s attentions.’
But considering what Balthazar used to be like, these pursuits are harmless. And surely he deserves a reward for assassinating the elusive necromancer John Mortlake in the middle of Cairo’s teeming bazaar. What could be better than a holiday cruise up the Nile with his secretary Lucas Devereaux?
There’s just one thing that might ruin his mood.
If, for example, someone stole the talisman that’s kept him alive for two thousand years.That would really suck.
Unfortunately for Balthazar, he just killed the wrong necromancer – one with a vengeful daughter and huge debts to some very shady djinn. To get his mojo back, he and Lucas must find a legendary sword and liberate a desert kingdom of magical misfits. For centuries, the people of Al Miraj have sought a valiant champion willing to face the wrath of the arch demon Fulad-zereh!
What they get is Balthazar.
But the gods always did like a good joke.
Find it on Goodreads
About the Author
Our Review - 4.5 Deliciously Gritty Stars
When I saw the cover of this book, I knew I wanted to read it. Even the title stuck out as something innately interesting. And the story inside didn’t disappoint.
Balthhazar’s Bane is Book Six in Kat Ross’s Gaslamp Gothic collection, and this little gem already has me convinced the entire set is worth the money. In fact, reading this book makes me want to go back and start from book one and read them all, including this one all over again.
From what I have gleaned from other reviews and the author’s website, the infamous Count Balthazar Jozsef Habsburg-Koháry has made appearances in other books, but this story is his first leading role. A well-deserved honor, in my opinion.
Balthazar is, well, he’s undoubtedly a bit of a scoundrel. A scoundrel with an affinity for the ladies. That he has a magical talisman that allows him to live forever so long as he draws a little life force from said ladies while he distracts them a bit of boom-chicka-wow-wow is a technicality that no one seems too upset about.
But, let’s not get off track. This story, while somewhat driven by Balthazar’s appreciation for the opposite sex, is really about the consequences of killing the wrong necromancer, trusting the wrong woman, and playing the hero for both the right and wrong reasons.
From the very first pages of this story, I was transported to the warm, spicy, dangerous, and romantic Middle East. I could practically smell the myrrh and jasmine, feel the heat on my face. There is a layer of sheen and sophisticated grit over every setting and every character in this book. Think Prince of Persia meets Casablanca and then add in enough magic, snark and flat-out humor to make it one big jaunt through ancient ruins and a hidden world masked and dependent on magic.
Balthazar makes for a worthy protagonist: intelligent, confident, attractive, funny, and more than a little rough around the edges in terms of morality and ethics. His side-kick, Lucas, provides so much needed common sense (something a long-lived Balthazar often forgets) and a reason for Balthazar to do the right thing, even if it takes a little time for him to come around.
This story is well-crafted, the characters and setting interesting and deliciously sensory-rich, and I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion.
Ms. Ross, I have no idea how this character came to you, but he is worthy of his long life and I look forward to reading more of his adventures.
Thank you to Xpresso book tours for letting us be a part of this great tour and giveaway!