I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The story starts with Evan, an abused boy who is studying to be a blacksmith in a rural country. A knight passing through sees that he’s being mistreated and offers to take him with him. Evan decides to go, and he and Falcon go traveling together. After that many storylines happen. Sometimes the story follows Evan while he’s trying to survive in the big city. Sometimes it’s following Falcon as he’s sent on another mission. Sometimes it’s following Bailey, who watches over Evan after Evan leaves, and once in a while a different character takes over.
Overall, I liked this story. I like Evan’s evolution as a character. He starts lowly, and by the end he has good reason to have changed and be angry. I like that some characters introduced early on end up coming back. There were some good twists in the story that I liked.
One thing I did notice is that there were errors. What it felt like to me was an author who couldn’t get someone to give it a second lookover, so some noticable errors slipped through.
Even knew there would be no more work today,
Stephen turned to guide and looked down on him,
Memory of where he was, how he got there was slow to return.
Olin’s words haunted him as set out.
He tried to sit up but the ground titled underneath him…
“I was glad when you choose me last night,” she said.
They’re the type of errors that aren’t likely to be caught with a spell checker.
There were both good and bad points with the romances. Evan is learning to become, essentially, an assassin, and he’s given a gold coin to ‘enjoy himself’ out on the town. He goes to a brothel that’s recommended (though he had no idea it was a brothel) and ends up sleeping with one of the girls there. They’re talking about running away together before he even knows her name.
Then, he meets up with her one more time quite a while later. At that point his master decides a woman can get in the way of his training. At first, I thought he would kill her, but I was pleasantly surprised that he decided to go a different route. At this point I like some of the things that happen. He bribes and threatens her, giving her money to leave and also implying that bad things will happen to her if she doesn’t She accepts the bribe and leaves. When Evan finds out that she’s gone, he says:
“I was quite relieved, actually.”
I really, really liked this. For me, that made the relationship work much better. I could believe that he got caught up in the moment and made a stupid promise that he regretted, with a girl he knows nothing about. I also like that she went ahead and left, which seemed like the smart thing for her to do. There is a hint of her seemingly wondering how much she would regret leaving Evan behind, but thankfully it doesn’t dwell on this. She’s a prostitute, and not a new one. She’s seen Evan all of twice, and it’s doubtful that he’s the first person who has made promises to her. There’s no reason someone who has experienced the world as she has such be greatly lamenting leaving behind some guy who paid to sleep with her once.
If anything, the promises and such that she had him made to her could very well be her purposely manipulating him in the hopes of leaving that life. It’s much more suitable than having a “true love” story. I didn’t like how it started because of how quickly they were talking about running away together and I was expecting the book to try and convince me that they’re super in love, so I was pleasantly surprised when he was relieved that she left and she was able to be bribed to leave. It was a good depiction of what that situation would probably be like.
On the other hand, in part of Falcon’s story, he meets up again with a knight they met early on named Aaron. While they’re escaping from a prison together and wandering in the woods, they meet a foreigner from the north named Sulla. Aaron seems interested in her fast, and while I can’t say she necessarily returns his feelings immediately, they do start to present themselves soon. That’s all right, but it seemed like their relationship developed ‘off-screen’. It’s mentioned that she starts to like his horse, and they develop some of their bond over that, but we don’t really see it.
When they arrive at her home and there’s a conflict about the fact that she’s meant to marry someone else, and she shouldn’t have a relationship with Aaron (which isn’t the only part of the conflict. There’s also the fact that people in certain jobs dedicate their lives to that job and don’t take a spouse). It didn’t strike me very hard, because while they had been traveling together for a while and the story implies that they’ve grown closer, I didn’t really see it.
I will say that in some of the scenes shown of Aaron and the late Stephen, I started to think they were a couple. I don’t think they were, and I’m saddened by that.
Were they bad characters? No. I’d say that I like the characters in this book. There were some parts that I don’t think got developed quite enough, and others that might have lingered too long, but as a whole I thought it was an enjoyable read that did go somewhere. The book is the beginning of a series, so not everything is resolved at the end, but it does have a satisfying conclusion for this novel that felt like it was earned. The author went in some directions that I didn’t expect and found refreshing.
If you’re into epic fantasies, go ahead and give it a try. I give it a good 8/10.