Today I am delighted to be reviewing Strange Cargo by Patrick Samphire. This is the third book in the fantastic Mennik Thorne series, and will be out on the 29th July (so you still have time to read the first two books!!!). A massive thank you to the author for the opportunity to return to one of my favourite series and characters early!
Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
What do a smuggling gang, a curse that won’t go away, and a frequently lost dog have to do with each other?
Answer: they’re all here to disrupt Mennik Thorn’s hard-earned peace and quiet.
As the sole freelance mage in the city of Agatos, Mennik is used to some odd clients and awful jobs. But this time, one of his clients isn’t giving him a choice. Mennik might have forgotten about the smugglers whose operations he disrupted, but they haven’t forgotten about him. Now he is faced with a simple ultimatum: help them smuggle in an unknown, dangerous cargo or flee the city he loves forever.
Time is running out for Mennik to find an answer, and things are about to get completely out of control.
There was no way I could pass up the chance to read Strange Cargo early, as the Mennik Thorn series is one of my favourite ongoing series and just so much fun to read – and this latest instalment did not disappoint. Strange Cargo might be a short novel, especially compared to the previous two, but it doesn’t lack any of the charm and sheer entertainment because of that. It was great to see the storyline with the smugglers followed up on, and while it does feel a little like a sidequest in the grand scheme of things, that didn’t mean it lacked impact of the other books, because with each outing it feels like Nik is coming more into himself.
‘With the heavy weight of the rod in my hand, I felt more confident. Knowing I could crack someone’s skull if it came to it cheered me up.’
Nik remains one of my favourite characters. He’s still an idiot half the time, with little impulse control although he is trying to curb the curiosity that keeps getting him into trouble, but he has such a unique character voice that shines through no matter what he gets into. There’s so much sarcasm and humour (quite a bit of it self-deprecating, because he is wonderfully self-aware of his own limitations even if he doesn’t always use that knowledge), that you can’t help but smile even while you roll your eyes at some of his antics. The reason he’s so endearing though is that humour and sarcasm and idiocy, is paired with a level of integrity and a genuine desire to help (even when he shouldn’t).
I’ve said before that he should be arrested for his own protection (and I think Captain Gale might agree), but at this point I think Nik should be checking to see if he’s cursed because of the bad luck and chaos that follow him. Although admittedly at least half of that is down to his own decision making. Speaking of Gale, it was great to see their interactions in this book, and off all his relationships (most strained or in chaos) it felt like the one that had the most impact and development in this book, and I do love their dynamic and I’m glad that Nik does have someone he can turn to at this point.
Strange Cargo also added some fascinating elements to the world of Agatos, and in particular I enjoyed exploring the different Temples and the differences in worship (even if Nik’s motives for providing that exploration was less than holy), and seeing the slightly less chaotic, but no less impactful influence of a piece of a Dead God. We also got to learn a bit more about the magic of the world, and the differing effects of raw magic (I loved the Jaunt’s Ghost), and I felt that we really got to see Nik in his element here as he explored and tried to solve and remove some of those effects, from tracing the source, to researching at the library and as I said it really did feel that he is coming into himself.
There was plenty of action and chaos as is to be expected from a Mennik Thorne book, and it was a thrilling ride from start to finish, and I couldn’t put it down. Samphire does a great job as always of tying together the disparate jobs and threads that Nik finds himself involved in, and I was on the edge of my seat as everything reached a crescendo (because with Nik you always have to be worried).
Strange Cargo is a fantastic addition to the Mennik Thorn series, and I will always be happy to see more outings for Nik and I am already eagerly looking forward to the next book. If you haven’t given this series a shot yet what are you waiting for? It’s without a doubt one of the most entertaining series I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and Nik will steal your heart (even as you call him ten kinds of idiot).
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.