This was chosen by Qwillery as one of their semi-finalists and you can read that review here: Review
The prologue sets the grim tone when a son tries to raise his father from the dead. He misses him, loved him, and clearly thinks this will be a good reunion…but he ends up thinking of his wife and son as he dies. His dad comes back and kills his ass to take back his crown. Then he sends his underlings off to go find Ansen Kane, the guy who killed him.
We move to a POV of a young boy on his seventeenth birthday. He’s a man now, or so says society – he came off as immature and child-like for his age to me though. Isaac Bleake hears his cow making noise at night and thinks that’s odd, when he and his mother go to investigate a shadow creature comes and kills his mom. There’s a theme here, and it’s that good people die. His mom sends him to go find Ansen Kane with her dying breath.
So, Ansen is hanging out in the Infected Lands, he’s kind of a loner, kind of gruff, and he’s a Knight of the Gun. He’s also been living in exile and under a fake name because he’s considered a traitor and he has a large bounty on his head. He did kill the King of Aendvar, after all.
Because the opening had dialogue using “m’lord” and people stealing crowns, evil necromancers in billowing robes with hoods and shit, I thought this was medieval….but Isaac’s mom was wearing jeans? Then there’s this wild-west vibe in the Infected Lands where Ansen has been living. Add in the fact that rifles and guns are a thing and it starts to feel more like a flintlock western than medieval. The world-building kind of remained unclear to me until I got a bit further into it. This is set on an Earth that has been broken and reborn. “The world cracked and split” which caused catastrophic damage nearly wiping out all of civilization… but it also released magic from the world’s core. It’s called “The Reckoning” and now people refer to as the time before as “The Long Ago”.
I liked the writing when it came to the narrative, things moved quickly, there was a bit of repetition but there wasn’t too much info-dumping, and the prose got out of the way of the story. It was a pretty gory story, too. Lots of descriptive violence, so if that’s not your thing, maybe skip this one. I wasn’t always a huge fan of the dialogue, however. During heartfelt moments, or when people are dying, or when they are nervous/scared… they tend to stutter. A lot. I dunno, this may not bother you at all, but it started to grate on me after I read it a few too many times.
This is a short book and it didn’t take me long to finish. I felt like I was sailing right through until I hit a little over halfway when I was wondering how much longer it was going to take before the two POVs finally meet. The premise of Isaacs’s journey was “go find Ansen” and at 61% he still hadn’t. It didn’t leave much room for what came after that, the ending felt a bit jarring because of that.
TLDR: This will be for people who enjoy shorter, darker, grimmer kinds of stories that include violence, necromancy, and black magic. Dual POVs, one of which is a coming of age story, the other being a loner exiled soldier who’s a hero but has to be in hiding.
- Plot: 10/15
- Characters: 11/15
- World Building: 12/15
- Writing; 11/15
- Pacing: 11/15
- Originality: 9/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 6/10
Final Score: 70/100 or 3.5/5 stars on GR