Hey guys and welcome to the first finalist review for Team Weatherdrifter!! Kristen actually beta read for this book so she’s going to bow out for this review. So it’s up to just me!
I’m partial to rogue characters like charismatic thieves, academics with loose scruples, and snarky assholes. Naturally, this means I liked Eska basically from the start. She’s one of the leaders of a company that specializes in lost relics and antiques — things that are worth a lot of money and have historical value. Eska is an archeological fanatic and is borderline obsessed with all things ancient and mysterious. I also liked how a little-touched-on topic came up… of how archeologists and their love for culture can sometimes end up damaging the cultures they are trying to learn about. Taking relics from native cultures and keeping them in museums has a cost, and Eska is directly confronted about it and it sticks with her.
So, Eska steals this box from someone known as the Iron Baron, and it’s not just any box. Because of course not. It’s some relic that’s incalculable in value. He caught her stealing the box, but he didn’t know what he had, and so she pretended to return it — but she had already taken what was inside. She fucks with the Baron badly enough that now he’s sending people after her to kill her. One of Eska’s downfalls is she has a loose filter on what she says to people. Probably an after-effect of growing up in an affluent and influential family, but that doesn’t mean she’s impervious to danger or other nobles. “You’re going to get yourself killed”, is something I thought on more than one occasion.
From there things slow down a little bit, though. It’s evident that time and effort went into the world building. It took careful construction to develop all of the political players and put them into place and set them in motion. It takes a while for things to get going again, so I could see where some would say there’s a lull for the middle portion of the book. For me, though, I was engaged for most of it. I only got a little antsy around 70% waiting for the start of the climax of the book, hoping there would be a satisfying resolution.
The secondary POV was a woman named Manan. She’s a little bitter since her family has come to ruins, her father is in jail, one of her brothers is dead. She’s basically on her own now that she’s been separated from Perrin, her other and last living brother. Since she’s a little hard around the edges it took me longer to come around to her, but I did get there by the end. She’s a little feisty with her responses to people, but is also a very smart, driven, and capable person. That basically leaves us with two very strong female lead POVs and that made for a really interesting read. Manan is a Carrier, and she’s essentially a pyromancer. It’s common knowledge that there are pyromancers and aquamancers… but there may also be metalmancers and bloodmancers — all really neat world building. It’s not a good thing to be a Carrier, it’s something almost all of them keep a close secret. Not too long ago, Carriers were thrown out to sea with their feet tied to rocks, and the fear of them persists in society.
I felt the writing in this was great, it wasn’t a short book but it felt like it was. I basically audiobooked the whole thing in a 24 hour period without feeling like I was cramming it in. The tone was kept much lighter than one would expect for all the political craziness and potential undead king stuff going on due to the snark level in the dialogue. I could also see how this might not work for some people. The humor didn’t always land with me, but it sort of slid off me instead of bouncing off — if that makes any sense. I wouldn’t call this a comedy by any means, but this is not one of the grimdark doom and gloom finalists, either. Looking at you, Norylska.
Overall, I felt like this was a solid choice for a finalist! Since this will be its first review outside of the OG blog, I wish I had a little more exciting news but my score will not change the board, lol.
- Plot: 11.5/15
- Characters: 12.5/15
- World Building: 13/15
- Writing: 12.5/15
- Pacing: 10/15
- Originality: 12/15
- Enjoyment: 8/10
Final Score: 79.50/100 or 8/10 for SPFBO