Rating: 2 out of 5
I was provided this book by the author to read and review. This is, therefore, not a review of a book that I chose, but one which was chosen for me—and I will try to remain as impartial as possible for the review in light of those facts.
A short summary of my experience with this title is that I didn’t like it. The world, into which the story was carved, seemed interesting enough, but from the first vestiges of the legendarium that the author put forward to the reader, I had glimpses of Mr Tchaikovsky’s ‘Shadows of the Apt’ in this, with an unknown but incredibly powerful final enemy waiting behind the scenes. And, in the middle of this all, there are the local grievances of petty kingdoms, trying to fight each other for some reasons, as well as the overtly religious setting of the main overlord of the continent (or at least the relevant part of it). These religious notes did not endear the culture to me, while the strong connections with the sea and “journeying to find the hidden lands” that the religion supported might have done so.
Some of the action, specifically the parts where we were looking through the eyes of the “son of a vassal lord whose aspirations go beyond simple lordship” and “a king’s daughter, a diplomat…” were the most to my liking. These had good pacing and the action was relatively straightforward. Meanwhile, the other princes and whatnots who the reader observed were often travelling about the land for odd reasons. These scenes were not my favourites as it felt the author was using these as a backdrop to introduce lots of new concepts to the reader, instead of allowing these to grow organically (and what’s with “poisonous trees”?).
However, the biggest fault I found with this book was the language. Often, incredibly often, a sentence would make sense had it not included a word which had a meaning that didn’t make sense in the context. There was also some confusion about when the activities were taking place, and while some authors (Sapkowski for one) use this with great effect, in this case it seemed more that the tense was wrong than it being a purposeful plot device. These problems with language ruined the book for me.