Just a note of caution: definitely a "mature" adult read, with a fair amount of inappropriate scenes and language. Rated "R."
Maybe this is a result of it being a translation, but I found the writing style occasionally tedious; the annoying overuse of similes, especially references to animals, was just very repetitive and annoying (paraphrase--"he held the bread in his hand like a small kitten clutched to his chest"). But it is definitely interesting to read fantasy from a Russian author; the background "flavor" was slightly different from the English medievalism of most fantasy (but still mostly operated in cliches)
The premise is interesting--a consummately popular, suave, utterly self-absorbed noble's life is ruined when his rash actions lead to tragic consequences. Yet despite his culpability, Egert still feels no remorse, until an encounter with a mysterious stranger leaves him cursed, with all his bravery destroyed before an overwhelming and constant surge of cowardice. His life in ruins, he flees the city and travels through the world as an outcast. Egert goes from a character supreme and off-putting self confidence to a sniveling and off-putting character with no ability to action or free will. If you can drag yourself through that third (or more) of the book, his slow journey into maturity and self-knowledge begins to get interesting.
The other main character is the girl he has hurt through his actions, Toria. She wavers between hatred, disgust, and a slow growing understanding that, while despicable, Egert is still a human being. There are some interesting developments from a Christian redemptive perspective, but then the story has to go and disintegrate back to the gutters of taverns and bodice-ripping.
There were definitely a few plot turns that surprised me, but mostly you read to see if Egert can come to terms with his past and gain mature perspective. It was really interesting as an OCD person to read this story, because some of the ways Egert copes with his constant debilitating fear are defensive "rituals," making his curse surprising similar to to OCD.
I found out halfway through that this is the second in a series (trilogy?) and it doesn't look like the others have been translated into English. That made me worried about a lack of resolution, but those worries were unfounded. Yes, it ends rather abruptly, but it definitely had a complete plot arc and a conclusion that wrapped up the story.
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