Top critical review
Not a great read, but the plot is okay
Reviewed in the United States on October 29, 2021
I like Daniel's YouTube channel. I listened to his first book on audible and it wasn't great, but I thought it was okay for a first attempt. I figured I'd give his second book a try.
Let's start with a few good points: Chapman was a solid character. The anointed one felt like a menacing threat. It certainly feels like a force of evil. The plot was reasonably engaging and the setup for the next book is fairly okay. The pacing is fast, which is good because it helps hide the bad points.
Okay, now for the bad. Strap in, it might get rough.
1. The writing itself: The prose was clunky. The descriptions were in no way immersive. The dialogue was so awkward I found myself wondering who talks like that. There's one scene where a character is playing chess to save his life (which was a dodgy setup to begin with, but okay). This scene is completely undermined by Daniel including the actual chess moves in the dialogue. And by this I mean quite literally:
Flip: Pawn d4
Avi: Pawn f5
Did he think I was going to read with a chessboard in set up so I could follow the game? It ruined the apparently tense dialogue. Instead of paying attention to what they were saying, I sat there playing chess in my head. The scene is still a blur that I can barely remember.
2. Sexual content: The sexual innuendos are everywhere. I get that Daniel doesn't like books that have no sex in them, but personally, I don't go through my day getting aroused by tense or dangerous situations. I don't make random references to what old lovers used to discuss after sex. I don't think things like: normally I'd flirt with this person, but I guess now is not the right time. It was just ew. This is especially infuriating because Daniel slammed Jim Butcher for making Harry Dresden a horn dog in the later books. Harry had a magical reason for being a horn dog and even so it felt ew. I do not understand why Daniel took this tack at all.
3. The majority of the characters were flat. Extremely flat. They didn't feel like unique individuals, they felt like secondary characters. I'd go so far as to say some of the secondary characters felt like tertiary characters.
4. Swearing and in-world expressions: Worst point in my opinion: I don't like f-bombs in fantasy. I don't know why, but it pulls me straight out of the fantastical mindset, unless it is urban fantasy set in our time and world. Count of swear words drawn from our world and our time:
S-word for crap: 28
Lastly, the world building:
The empire feels extremely one dimensionally evil. There is no way to understand why people would show any kind of loyalty to the empire, so you have no conflict about seeing it all burnt to the ground.
The magic system: I have no idea how it works.
Like with Breach of Peace, I feel as though the fantasy elements are tacked on.
I like Daniel's reviews and I honestly feel that if he reviewed his own book without knowing it, he would have ripped it a new one.