This is a novel that tries to do everything and succeeds a little too well. It is part of a series, and it has an “Empire Strikes Back” feel to it. Everything goes wrong for the heroes, and by the end, all they have left is hope. Which will presumably be rewarded in the next book.
One positive you can’t miss. There is a plethora of conflict of various sorts, and plenty of tension. The main characters are leaders of a mostly unsuccessful underground revolution, and the danger never goes away. The story contains a wild variety of action scenes, with automaton soldiers, regular soldiers, spies, traitors, zombies, skeletons and a whole lot more. It seems to be an attempt to gather every battle meme from every horror and fantasy genre in one place.
Basically, the problem with this book is the lack of focus. In its goal of covering the scope of a nationwide struggle, the story spreads itself too thinly, and the complete lack of indication of whose point of view we are using at any one moment distances the reader from the characters.
The first rule about POV changes is to indicate to the reader what has happened. This book switches POV randomly from one paragraph to the next without warning. The second POV rule is not to change too often. This book changes often to a large number of people. A third way to make POV changes work is to give different “voices” to the various characters. In this book, every character speaks with the voice of the author, so they all sound the same.
Other than that, it’s a good story with great conflict and admirable themes. Recommended for those who like darker wide-ranging epics.
(4 / 5)