Stars: 1 out of 5.
DNF at 30%.
The description of this book sounded so promising, and I was really excited to start it… Unfortunately, my excitement quickly turned into puzzlement, then annoyance, then simply boredom.
This story feels so… disjointed. First we have a prologue that has almost nothing to do with the story itself – we are introduced to characters that never appear in the book again (at least in the part I read before I called it quits), in a location that is barely mentioned again, only because one of the protagonists is sent there. But then again, that particular protagonist has the least page time, so I maybe got to read his POV twice before I dropped the book.
Then we are briefly introduced to our protagonists who are promptly sent their separate ways, so we don’t really get a feel for their family dynamics or feelings. They are together for maybe a couple pages and manage to squabble like kindergarteners for that whole duration. There is no sense of familial ties or history there. Then they leave to their specified locations… and that’s it for the ties between them.
I understand that that the author wanted to show different parts of this seemingly vast empire through the eyes of the protagonists. Unfortunately, that didn’t work for me. There isn’t enough meat in the worldbuilding to visualize the actual world. We have this Empire that is seemingly ruled by industrial Guilds. And the Emperor is the head of the most powerful Guild… Okay, how does this work? Apart from a brief reception for a foreign dignitary (during which the emperor behaved like a simpleton), and a sham of a trial in front of the Guild council, we get nothing about what makes this empire tick – what about the non-guild citizens? Army? Militia? Judiciary system? Anything? Same for the “Demon empire” that supposedly was their enemy for a thousand years. We get disjointed glimpses of things but they don’t make a clear picture.
It didn’t help that I couldn’t like any of the protagonist enough to care about them. Especially Tyreta, who behaves like an entitled brat with no self-control for most of the story I managed to get through. And while that could have been excused for a teenager, her mother, who is supposedly in her 40s, isn’t much better. This book suffers from a distinct lack of good characterization.
Finally, the fight scenes are… uninspired to say the least. Who could imagine that a fight scene can be boring? Well, they are in this book. They last for pages at a time but aren’t dynamic or suspenseful. They are just boring. I found myself skipping paragraphs during the fights.
Maybe I am just spoiled by other great epic fantasy books I read this year, since a lot of people seemed to have loved this one and left me cold.
PS: I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.