This was a review request from the author!
This book will appeal to people who love classic epic fantasy AND flintlock military fantasy. There are goblins, vampires, giants, and spirits at war with a human military force that’s using single fire rifles, pistols, cannons and artillery. It’s a really interesting mash up.
r/fantasy Bingo Squares:
- Indie Published
- Under 2500 ratings
- Reviewed (when I post this to Reddit)
- Mountain Setting
- One Word Title
Tammen was born into a more notable family in Gemmen, his father was a librarian at a college, and Tammen managed to graduate with a degree in history. Typically, educated people have good chances of getting employed and not worrying about their financial future. However, Tammen wasn’t well off enough to make use of his history degree, one thing lead to another and he ended up “taking the Queens Coin” and joining the army. Being in the army in this society is like burning every bridge in your social network. It’s more than just having trouble socially, Tam’s parents consider him dead, and try and forbid his sister from seeing him.
Tam gets swept up into a war against the Lich King that lives in the north. The prince was murdered and it was done in such a way that it could have only been a select few people. Not many people alive can still use magic, and the Elves are all gone, vanishing overnight decades ago. The Verin Empire believes the Lich King has made a move after centuries of keeping to himself in his lands. The Verin empire is convinced since the Lich King hasn’t declared war, or fought in a war for over 500 years that it would be possible to take back the country of Gedlund which has been suffering under his rule for over a thousand years. It’s no where near as easy as it was planned, and the motivations behind the war may not be what they seem.
Final Score: 12.5/15
Tam is a young kid who’s impulse to see the world so he could write a travelogue book has lead him seriously astray. He thought when he signed up for the military that he would be pushing paper in some faraway place, not on the front lines of the goblin skirmishes. He’s reluctant to be violent, he’s hesitant in his new command position, and overall he’s overwhelmed. He does learn how to cope and grows over the course of the book. He’s a smart kid who’s eager to have others like him, he enjoys being a part of the fire camp banter and is always looking to do the right thing. Compared to the rest of his company he’s tight-laced, he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t visit prostitutes, he doesn’t participate in any of the more rowdy past times of his companions. I found him easy to like and his character created a nice contrast to the world around him.
Gus wasn’t introduced as a POV until about 60% through the book, but you’re already very familiar with him since he’s in the same troop as Tam. He’s a carefree sort, he loves giving Tam a hard time, loves drinking, and the ladies. He doesn’t take his position too seriously and is thought of by most as an ass. He’s best friends with a guy named Claud, they spend most of their time together and are so similar most people just call them the twins, even though they aren’t even brothers.
Final Score: 12/15
This is a neat blend of military fantasy and classic epic fantasy, I don’t often see a flintlock fantasy where the enemy on the other side isn’t also using gunpowder weapons. It’s been the topic of more than a few discussions of how battles between guns and magic would go down, and it’s really interesting to see it play out here.
The military runs a lot like you would imagine a 19th century military would, it has the classic hierarchical structure, the weapons used are similar, as well as comparable battle strategy. However, there are a few ticks that make it just a little different. Men aren’t allowed to marry unless they’re officers. Officers must have a moustache. Men “taking the Queens Coin” is considered one of the lowliest jobs you can have. Only the most washed up men with nowhere else to go end up in the military. There’s no glory, or songs sung in public taverns, it’s a contract that makes you fight for 8 years, and then another 7 years in the reserves.
Elves were extremely secretive and had no love for human kind, but they’ve all but vanished shortly after the railroads were built. It’s theorized that the iron laid down blocked the ley streams from flowing magic into the world. No one knows what happened to the Elves, and since they took most of their possessions with them, not much remains of them. Elfsteel is very rare, it has a different color to it and never dulls.
Vampires are intelligent, they aren’t mindless bloodsucking monsters. They have unnaturally large mouths and can rip people to shreds. They are fast and much stronger than people, it takes a LOT to kill them. Like typical vampires, they can’t go out in sunlight, and they turn into dust when they die.
There’s a self-healing giant that causes a lot of problems for the army. Able to recover from just about any wound, even the heavy rifle fire has difficulty trying to bring it down.
Final Score: 13.25/15
The writing for this was fairly straightforward, there wasn’t much in the way of flowery writing, and it came across as smooth and written clean. It’s written in third person non-omniscient, so you know what the character knows – but since there were so many things Tam was in the dark about, it left an air of mystery for many things.
The tone was mixed, sometimes it was brutal and bloody, but there were also moments of levity. Also, since Tam and his commander were both likeable, and generally decent people, it didn’t make the world feel quite as dark as it could have given that the army was being besieged by the undead.
Final Score: 11/15
I wasn’t sure what exactly was going on in the beginning, I knew that Tam was helping fight off goblins, but I wasn’t sure why they were fighting the goblins and what the bigger picture was until a little later. What kept me turning pages at that point was my like of the main character. I found him easy to relate to so I kept reading to find out what happened to him.
It did tend to lag a little bit in places, it is a 667-page book. This will be for people who like a really in-depth experience in the world building and don’t mind a slower pace at times.
When the action was going on things sped along, and towards the end things ramped up speed.
Final Score: 9/15
I see a lot of goblins and vampires (third book in a row, actually), and I see a lot of flintlock fantasy. I don’t see them mixed together that often, and it was a lot of fun to read about.
Final Score: 11/15
I love being able to root for a character, grey characters can be captivating and interesting, but there’s just something I love about really getting behind a character. I like that this involved a lot of battles and drama but also managed not to be overly dark. Given the blurb I was worried this was going to be another SUPER DARK EVERYTHING IS BLEAK kind of book. I just got off a run of Joe Abercrombie books followed by a couple grimdark books, I need a little breather. Thankfully, this didn’t dive into those kinds of depths. I thought the overall concept of mixed genres was really neat, and I hope to read more by this author 😀
Final Score: 8.2/10
- For people who like flintlock military fantasy
- For people who like vampires
- For people who like goblins
- For people who like high stakes
- For people who like dual pov
- For people who like an enjoyable non-grey pov
- For people who like dark but not super dark
- For people who like long epic books
- For people who prefer books with no romance
Final Score: 76.95/100 (4 stars)