Top positive review
A Great Debut
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 8, 2013
This was a great debut novel, but personally I never really got into it, and consequentially this took me much longer to read than a book normally does. It's still a great book, and I enjoyed reading it, I just didn't find it to be a real page turner. Part of the problem might have been that there really isn't much of an overarching story in this book and the world building was pretty slight, making the characters and flintlock action really the only things to grab a hold of. That being said, I did really like the two main viewpoint characters, and all of the supporting cast. One of them is a female soldier pretending to be a man, who by relatively random chance is promoted to lead a company of green soldiers. I probably liked her parts of the story the most, but at the same time a lot of the drama relied a bit too much on luck/fate. Still I really enjoyed all of the time spent with her. The other main character is the second in command of the army, and while I liked him, his parts were generally very slow. His viewpoint is needed for the reader to see the eccentric general (or whatever he's called) and some other plot agents that cause drama later in the book. The story of this book is essentially that a powerful country (France?) has colonized a far away continent (The Middle East?), though they work with the royalty of that country. However, at the start of this book there has been a very large rebellion fueled by religious fundamentalists/crazies and the occupying forces/Prince have fled to the coastline. In response the France analog (I believe) has sent an army of barely trained soldiers led by an eccentric genius general. What follows is essentially a war diary where the army trains and moves further and further inland fighting the rebels along the way. There really isn't any other story in the book, other than character drama and a few comments about stuff that's going on back home and what will probably be the story for the sequels in this series.
What's very different about the action in this book is that the viewpoint characters are commanders, meaning that they generally only direct the soldiers, unless things are going very wrong. The flintlock rifles and bayonets also make for very different action from what I'm used to. To make this even more different from the average fantasy novel, there is very little world building for almost the whole book, and while magic is mentioned as a possibility, it really doesn't come into play until the last chapters. To me, this works and I did really enjoy what's there, but it just took me a while to get through all of it. This book was a very high 4 stars for me, and I would recommend it, especially for fantasy fans looking for something different. I'll be picking up the sequel when it comes out, but I just hope it's a little more exciting, and honestly it'll probably be very different since it'd be tough to replicate the journey of A Thousand Names.