Raising the dead is a universal ability in the Viiminian Empire. Necromancy is a school subject, while undead ('liches') labour in factories and staff Imperial bureaucracy.
The story follows one Teltö Phuul. A young and very low-level Necromancer, Teltö works in a small provincial library and cares little for anything so long as the (black market) food and liquor keep coming... until one day he suffers a rude awakening. Teltö is dragged from peaceful obscurity to work in the fetid Imperial capital, Kuolinako. Worse, he must soon navigate not just the deadly realm of Imperial politics, but also the Empire's northern neighbour, where necromancy is considered a monstrous crime. One false step will cost Teltö his head.
The book was published in 2016. There is a sequel in the works.
Wise Phuul contains the following tropes:
- Acid Pool: Kuolinako uses this for executions.
- The Alcoholic: Half the Viiminian Empire, but especially Teltö and Dyrstin.
- Animate Dead: How the Viiminian Empire operates.
- Badass Longcoat: Imperial Necromancers often wear them.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: Teltö can't understand why anyone would consider walking corpses wrong.
- Cool Airship: The Northern Principality uses these. The Empire finds it terrifying.
- The Cynic: Tuvena and Physsil. Teltö to start with.
- Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Physsil smokes one.
- The Dragon: Eriva Vöder. Not to be confused with the setting's Evil Overlord, who happens to be nicknamed The Dragon
- The Empire: The Viiminian Empire is not a nice place.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Ambassador and the Theatre Manager.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Tower of the Emperors houses the Imperial Inquisition. Even they're uncomfortable with it.
- Fantastic Measurement System: The standard unit of length is the furlong. Cue copious usage of millifurlongs and centifurlongs.
- Fantasy Gun Control: Averted. Guns are a standard weapon, both in the Empire and the North.
- Gag Nose: Teltö regularly comments on the nose of his sister. Turns out there's a family resemblance.
- God Is Evil: The core belief of the Northern Church
- The Great Wall: The border between the Viiminian Empire and the North has one.
- Insistent Terminology: Dyrstin refers to the Northern capital by its old Imperial name.
- The Magocracy: The Viiminian Empire is a de facto example, ruled by Necromancers.
- Mordor: The Mää Wastes around Kuolinako.
- The Necrocracy: Played with. The Imperial bureaucracy is staffed with both living and the undead. Vyrellävek rules as Grand Chancellor, but the titular Emperor remains Gykäkkä IV, fifteen centuries after his death.
- Necromancer: Not just our protagonist, but an entire country of them.
- Not Using the "Z" Word: The liches are walking corpses, but the term zombie is never used in-universe.
- Only Sane Man: How Rumi views himself.
- Our Liches Are Different: Liches in the setting are just reanimated corpses.
- Red-Headed Hero: Teltö. Well, a red-headed anti-hero anyway. And it's copper-red, not fire-red. He's very insistent on that.
- Secret Police: The monstrously powerful Imperial Inquisition.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The characters fall all over the spectrum.
- Vast Bureaucracy: The Viiminian Empire is swamped with paperwork.