Top critical review
Stilted dialogue, no character development, all the tropes
Reviewed in the United States on March 19, 2021
First, a disclaimer. I love all those stupid fantasy tropes and I was willing to ignore that they were all here, in this book. But I'm 49% through, according to my Kindle, and I just can't go on. Are they medieval warriors? Are they Irish? Are they aboriginal? Can't tell.
My first and foremost gripe is that Gywnne seems to not be able to keep track of his characters. Just now I read that Alana and Cywen were approaching Corban and Dath, and Cywen (not sure because POV is pretty fluid, another problem, particularly when these two females are together: one of the womens is talking/thinking, but we don't care which because WOMENS) notes that the wolf (also, why not just make her a wolf instead of some fantasy extra-wolf??) is at Corban's feet. But after they reach Corban and Dath, without Corban moving at all (I went back and checked, twice, another thing I found myself doing all the time with this book as objects and people randomly move around so much), the wolf is suddenly coming out from behind a boulder. This is almost constant.
The passage of time is a similar issue: it doesn't seem like Veradis has been with Nathair for terribly long (they just did the one mission) at the point when he returns home for the first time, but they all act like it's been years and years. The pacing is just all off.
Another huge problem is that everyone we meet gets a name, whether they are going to be important or not. So there's a ton of POV characters already, and I can handle that, but ordinarily the naming of the person is a signal to the reader to pay attention. Many false signals here. In addition, introducing a brand new POV character about a third of the way in was super awkward feeling. I will also add that I'm halfway through and only just beginning to decide who is the bad guy is going to be of all these POV characters.
Repetitive descriptors: when Nathair follows Meical into the stable, Meical's horse's eyes are described as "dark and liquid." Then not even two pages later: Meical's eyes are described as "dark and liquid." Though to be clear, I actually have no idea what anyone looks like, except "Ronan" has freckles. Not sure who Ronan is, he just appeared. It's like all the characters have these relationships with each other already but we don't get to know anything about that. (Because no character development.) Except that Alana is suddenly making friends with all these local kids who she's just now met for the first time: that isn't believable. If she could meet and interact with them so easily, that is a relationship that would actually already exist.
Some more: why is time described as "half a ten-day?" That's literally 5 days, so just say that. Why is Nathair eating a plum before Midsummer? Most fruit doesn't ripen until later in the summer (this would have been a great time to make up some fantasy fruit, BTW). Basically, if the author wants to do to a little world-building and so uses some made up things, fine. Excellent even. But when the author is borrowing from real things, it needs to work. Like plums get ripe after Midsummer in northern hemisphere-ish type countries, and a week has seven days and a month around 28, etc. Lots of fantasy books use old timey words like "league" and "fortnight" and yes, "score" (too much used here) to add that medival patina and keep things unconfusing for the reader.
Lastly, the dialogue. It's used all the time to advance the plot, but in the wrong way. I was just now reading a very boring and stilted scene where the aforementioned kiddos are on the beach and Alana is telling them her father's plans for pages and pages. You know what would be much less dull? Letting us, the readers, hear the King's plans when firsthand throught the kiddos. Also less grunting. The characters are always grunting.
Anyway, halfway though, just watching these characters do stuff, no building toward anything. Plus there was the killing of all the wolves scene, which was just awful to read for a dog lover. I'm out. Life's too short to read bad books.