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Looking for fantasy novel that opens with a wizard performing a resurrection spell that doesn't go quite as he planned. It was either cut short or didn't work and he ends up botching the incantation, creating a kind of blank slate of a man, rather than this bad-ass old battle mage of legend named Balthazar.

I think the wizard dies shortly after, sending this blank kid to the nearby kingdom. The kid hooks up with the royals eventually. Learns to ride a horse and wear armor and all that good medieval stuff. Then starts to have vague memories of his "former" life.

All the while, the kingdom is under imminent threat from a neighboring army - an army that hopelessly outmatches the kingdom's. The kid was resurrected to help defeat the army, which is kind of a lot of pressure, since he's still learning to tie his shoes and not stab himself in the eye with his fork while eating.

The book ends with the kid riding into battle and all the the memories come flooding back to him and he realizes that he is the once and terrible Balthazar. And I'm pretty sure he's like "BALTHAZAR!!" as he rides into battle and pretty much lays waste to the other army.

I read the book around 2001 (though it could have been published much earlier) in Australia (though I suspect the author was English). I think the cover was green (shrug), probably with a wizard on it or something (double shrug).

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I believe that you're thinking of Necromancer's Gambit by A J Dalton.

From the description on amazon.co.uk

A dead hero opens his eyes. To his horror, he finds he has been raised from the dead to serve as the undead minion of a desperate necromancer called Mordius. Our hero's body has been stolen from a battlefield contested by two kingdoms that have been at war for generations. No one knows why warfare is now the way of life, but what is apparent is that dark forces vie for dominion over the entire realm. Our hero has no memory of who he was when alive, and knows only that he was a soldier called Saltar. or so Mordius tells him. Like all the undead, Saltar craves the warmth of life and reluctantly accepts a bargain proposed by the necromancer. Saltar agrees to guard Mordius and help him retrieve an unholy artefact that will give the necromancer absolute sway over death. In return, Mordius promises to restore Saltar to full life...

It seems to be published rather later than you say (2008 rather than 2001), but the plot details that you give mesh with my admittedly hazy memories of the rest of the book.

  • Though it does have similar elements, this definitely isn't the book, unless one of the elements within is how it was somehow written in 2008 and time traveled to 2001 to be read by an exchange student in Australia. Thanks for the suggestion, solid idea searching amazon uk. Really wish it was the book... – Shots O'Conner Sep 27 '14 at 3:34
  • No problem; I hope you manage to locate the right one! – andrewsi Sep 27 '14 at 3:36

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