After reading some excellent short stories by this author I just had to sweet talk the publisher in to giving me an advance copy of this book when I heard that it was out soon. Luckily for me those goblins over at Anachron Press felt sorry for me and sent me an electronic copy.
This is an epic fantasy story that isn’t quite like your usual epic fantasy. There are no fluffy elves, no poetry and certainly no faffing around. There is some fruity language that somehow manages to help convey the horrors of war without going too far. It isn’t all doom and gloom though, there are loves and lusts and plenty of humourous parts too. I wouldn’t say this book is an emotional roller-coaster but there is certainly enough emotion to make sure you are empathetic to the characters.
Talking of characters, I thought the Knight Captain Alyda was well done. She manages to be everything a leader of an elite fighting force should be. The fact that she isn’t a token female leader and that there does not seem to be any real mention of equality made me wonder why there aren’t more books like this. I was shocked by what happened to her in the final act, but it was utterly compelling. The supporting cast including the villains are intriguing and in many cases I was left wanting to read more just to know their stories.
In a lot of ways this book reminds me of Robin Hobb but with a gritty realism added in. The combat scenes were particularly enjoyable. From the bone crunching jousting and single combat of two opposing leaders to the wholesale slaughter of a siege that needs to be broken quickly this book provides all the action you could want. Added to that are multiple layers of court intrigue and a system of magic that is mysterious, varied and powerful. This book has everything you’d expect in an epic fantasy and does all of them well. The biggest criticism I have about this book is that the second book is not finished yet.