I read this as a teen so early 2000s, but our local library had a rather old collection of books, so I would guess it's 80s or 90s (if not earlier). It's a 3 part series if I remember correctly, where magic in the book causes a faint sweet smell of almonds (I think it was almonds). The protagonist cannot perform magic, he is a prince or some such and not particularly tough at the beginning of the story (possibly jealous of his brother?), goes on a journey, falls in love with a zombie woman, helps save the day and returns as a tougher and worldlier man.

Other distinctive plot elements I remember is that the woman he falls in love with was initially an assassin sent to kill him after she had her heart taken out of her body. I believe that in the end they also vanquish evil by joining their hands together.

I would love to find that book again, if anyone has a clue it'd be greatly appreciated!

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    Interesting... Casting magic in this story's world is akin to poisoning yourself with cyanide?
    – TylerH
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 17:42

1 Answer 1


Is it the Godwars series by Angus Wells (published 1992-1993)? In the third book:

Calandryll and his companions are chased by another vengeful mage, whose dark magics created Cennaire, an undead murderess, to thwart their efforts.

Calandryll is a prince and a review says he falls in love with Cennaire. And according to another review (ibid):

This only gets 4 stars though because of the constant mention of magic smelling like almonds. I. Get. It. Every time someone does magic, I didn't need to be reminded of what it smelled like.

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    I believe this is it! Thank you for such a quick reply. How did you find it? Most of my searches for "magic smells like almonds" brought up warnings about eating poisonous almonds :/ Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 12:52
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    I also searched for something like that but I used "site:goodreads.com" so that I only got results from that site.
    – Laurel
    Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 12:55
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    @AmosJoshua: If you don't want to see "poison" in your results, you put "-" (minus sign) in front, like magic smells like almonds -poison. To check that it works, I did magic smells like almonds -poison -site:stackexchange.com.
    – user21820
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 15:21
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    By the way, almonds are intrinsically toxic due to having amygdalin, especially the bitter types. Heating them sufficiently destroys amygdalin (but I have no idea how long and what temperature is needed to be safe), but depending on how you do it you might produce potentially carcinogenic amounts of another toxin called acrylamide.
    – user21820
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 15:36
  • @user21820 thanks for the information =) Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 6:18

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