*I received a complimentary copy of this book, and I’m leaving a voluntary review*
*spoiler warning, as always*
Plot: There’s three stories here, one following military man Solinus as he struggles to rebuild after fleeing his home country, one following Emperor Aethon who tries to remain in power and control of his empire and last, one following King Eulasus, who tries to take back his kingdom.
Let’s start at the beginning I suppose. Solinus is an experienced military officer, who when he foresees that the empire can’t withstand the next battle that is coming their way, decides to find as many people as possible who are willing to flee and settle new lands. After a long journey overseas, this is done. But after settling new lands and rebuilding, they start to run out of resources. Which is when Solinus and his men have to go looking for timber in uninhabitated areas around their new home. And it is here they meet, the enemy. Tribal warriors attack them, again and again, which eventually leads to a proper war toward the end of Part I.
I gotta say, I probably preferred Part I out of all of the three. Solinus is more interesting, even though he’s a bit flaky at times, and seems to be nearly indestructible, he was by far my favourite character.
In Part II, Aethon and his brother are both Emperor’s together, Aethon the clever, political one of the two and his brother the military man. When forces try to take their kingdom from them, force both external and internal, the brothers are set on war. Seeing as Aethon is such a political person, much of what this part focuses on is how he tries to win alliances, stop rebellions, alter history, and remain the ruler, whilst his brother is off to war. Eventually also Aethon has to take to the battlefield.
I liked the political aspects of this, for the same reasons I love ASOIAF, it was great reading about how Aethon always had an iron claw around his empire, not letting anyone too close to it. But it was a bit strange that it was so disconnected to Part I. I felt like something from the earlier part, which is also earlier in history was going to be relevant in Part II, but other than a few statutes, there aren’t much of a connection. Also, Aethon at first hit me as a sly, cunning man, who’d do anything to keep his rule. But when he’s on the battlefield, he seems almost nice and caring and loving. People change I suppose. (Also, I’m pretty sure he was in awe when he first killed a man, but then went on a glorious rampage killing person after person. Like Solinus, Aethon seems a bit too powerful if he’s suddenly the best swordsman in the realm after one battle).
Part III happens a few generations after Aethon’s war is over, and we follow King Elesus who-though he rules his kingdom to a degree-isn’t alone in doing so. He starts a revolution, attempting to reclaim it.
At this point in the story, I don’t quite see how this was different than Part II, nor where the connection was other than a few generations of separation. Elesus like Aethon is also an amazing fighter and warrior, though he’s never killed anyone before. And this part saw the most obvious piece of foreshadowing I’ve seen in ages.
In general I liked the story and all the parts and the writing, and the political aspects of it, but I wanted there to be more of a connection between the three parts. I wanted there to be something that meant something from one to the other, something that I could remember and be like, “Of course!”
Also, I felt like the stories could easily fleshed out with some more sideplot, to leave me hanging for a bit, eager to come back to the main plot. Yet, the book is still incredibly long, exhaustingly long for me. Great work by Barlament to be able to write so much, I’ll commend any author with that ability, because I only ever write the bare minimum, and then I edit and it gets shorter. Then I usually have to flesh it out again with rewrites. But this could have done with being a bit shorter, in my opinion, a bit more to the point.