This military fantasy has the potential to be an epic fantasy series. No ground was broken in this story--pretty straight forward battle of opposing forces (one nominally "good" and the other nominally "evil"--yet those lines are certainly in question in the book and likely developed further in the series). The story set up enough convolution between the characters' backgrounds, the magical system, and the main conflict that I could see an interesting series developing out of this mostly run-of-the-mill first book.
In short: the characters were engaging; the motivations, setting, and plot all interesting.
This was a good "pass the time" book for me. I'm not dying waiting for the next book in the series, but I will very likely read it.
The reviews seemed pretty positive, from readers with similar tastes, so I gave it a try.
In fact I gave it three separate tries.
I guess its just not my cup of tea.
Neither the plot or the characters captured me.
At the risk of being obnoxious, I'd say this book "jumped the shark" about half way through.
It started as a well-written and interesting urban psuedo-fantasy mystery. I was curious about what was hidden behind the strange occurrences and was drawn along with the characters.
However, as the mystery was revealed, it got odder and odder. Eventually it stretched my ability to suspend my disbelief. Not necessarily because the circumstance became so surreal (and they did) but because the characters, for the most part, took it all so well--as if it were just another challenge to overcome.
All in all it kept me entertained, but I'll think twice before buying another book from this author.
I enjoyed, but wasn't blown away by this book. There were some interesting concepts bantered about by the main character, but nothing too profound or meaningful was every truly developed. Story line was run of the mill. But the writing was pretty good.
That's the Sanderson I've been waiting for!!!
Picks up the storyline and expands on it.
A couple parts felt a little bit cheezy (ala Stealheart and not Way of Kings), but not too bad.
Nothing to write home to mother about. But an enjoyable fantasy story set in a feudal Japanese society.
I liked it and may look for sequels.
This book took me by surprise. Both in how much I enjoyed it and in how diverse it felt in plot and story-telling.
It starts in the near future in a sort-of FBI pseudo mystery- setting, mildly calling to mind The X-Files (a character even directly references it). This section had some very brutal and sad events that made me consider putting the book down, but I'm glad I didn't
The story later shifts into a few very different mid-apocalyptic narrative (some personal narratives) that is very imaginative and empathetic.
Then it shifts again into a post-apocalyptic community survival story.
Yet, it is all very purposeful and interconnected. The need for the great span of time and the diversity of POV becomes apparent as the story progresses.
Given its length and shifting story-lines, Mr. Cronin could have easily broken this up into more than one book. I greatly respect that he didn't and I think it made for a better story.
I'm already onto the next book in the series and enjoying it.
The book was a bit of a roller coaster for me.
For the 1st half or so I was interested but not truly captured by the story. Then it hooked me hard. But then I thought the story/plot was becoming predictable and too "safe." Then it went a whole new direction--which surprised me (and I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but it was interesting).
Another review compared it to Game of Thrones, while I see the comparison--mostly due to the multiple first person point of views and the divergent and re-convergent story lines--it has a very different feel. Enjoyable, but without the same sense of gritty "realism" for the characters, except for some distinct segments. There is a similar story arc regarding the diaspora of siblings from a family destroyed by political/military conflict set to a background of layered personal, political, and mythological conflict. There is also a similar "forgotten" history of a dark and mysterious foreign threat looming behind the story-line in the first book--waiting to be developed, I presume, in the following books.
And there are some interesting and some what unique ideas here and some great potential for an intriguing epic story.
In short: I liked it and I'm going on to the next book. It isn't yet one of my favorites, but I could see it becoming one of them if the series continues on its current trajectory.
Although it was an interesting idea for a setting, at first I couldn't quite get into the genre mixing, as the SciFi story/element wasn't catching my interest. But a few chapters it hooked me. When I was done with the book I was satisfied by the story, but I'm waffling on going on to the sequel.
What I liked:
The characters were written well enough to make you care about them.
Story was fairly fast paced and kept you entertained.
The conflict in both worlds was engaging and interesting.
What I disliked:
The "fantasy" side of the story was violent, but not truly dark or gritty.
There wasn't much development of the mythology or magical system.
Some of the dialog was nearing childish and caused me to loose my suspension of disbelief.
I'd put this in my "pass the time" category. Not sure if I'm going on the sequel yet.
Wow! I just finished book 2 & 3.
As I read this series I was continually awed by the layer upon layer of connection between the main character's actions and his slowly revealing history (and future).
It was masterfully done! While not my favorite book, I have hardly been more impressed with a story so well weaved.
And the ending was perfect!
I say read the series. It is dark. The main character does many awful things--but in the end it all makes perfect sense. Each step in his story is purposeful and necessary.
If you are looking for an action packed romp, this isn't the book for you. It is a pretty decent story set to a fairly interesting fantasy background.
You'll note that almost every review remarks on the homosexual relationships in the book. I only think it's notable that this is the first book I've ever seen with them front and center. This was far far less sexual or graphic than many heterosexual encounters described in countless other books in the genre. It really is only 3 gay characters and 1 bi.
In the end, it past the time. It lost my interest a bit at the end. And I haven't gone on to the sequel. But I may at some point.
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