Top critical review
To make a short story long…
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on April 2, 2022
I regularly read fantasy books and sequences, including various types of magic, a broad cast of characters, and multiple plot lines. I am accustomed to lengthy volumes, and I don’t mind reading something that requires time and effort. Stories with new types of magic, culture, and world building are intriguing to me, so this story seemed like it would be a winner since it has those elements. In this case, I was surprised at how disappointed I was. The magic was fun and interesting, and some characters were quite good. However, a few big things prevented me from actually enjoying the book.
First, there wasn’t enough character building for some of the main players. As an example, for a character of such importance, Alys doesn’t say much. I liked Alys and wanted to know her better, but I don’t feel like I had the chance.
Second, environmentally, very little changes through the story. It is cold. Very cold. All the time. Everyone is cold. We are all cold with great and repetitious description. Cold. And without nearly enough coats. This is part of the story, a major plot point, and occupies heavy word count.
Third, there are many pages dedicated to reiterating ongoing scenes. We break from action in one place to quickly visit a group of travelers who are making slow progress. In the cold. And they are cold. Moving very slowly. Then we depart the travelers and visit a marching army which is making slow progress. In the snow. Also being cold.
And we return to a fort where everyone nervously awaits said army. In the freezing cold. With too few coats. Again. And then we make the rounds once more with little progress.
Fourth, while I recognize this is volume 1 of a 5-book sequence, the end of the book does not resolve nearly enough of the plot to be satisfying. I do not even want to read the second book because after struggling through this one, I have nothing to show for it. Except excessive descriptions of being cold. And sleep deprived.
To sum up, this would have worked better as a much shorter story. The same information in about 1/2 of the word count would have offered a more satisfying result, and that still leaves room for a bit more resolution of some plot lines that are left dangling in frustrating fashion.
I don’t leave reviews that are not complimentary very often, particularly on works with subjective value. Everyone has their likes and dislikes. This felt like one of the few times I would prefer to let other readers know that while this sounds like a high level of complexity and storytelling, it has some very basic and fundamental flaws that may bother avid readers of high quality fantasy.
And it’s cold.