5 stars Wonderfully evocative, brutally visceral fantasy.
It is not often I pick up a book that so enraptures me it is hard to put it down. Devin Madson, I salute you. What a beautiful written expertly told fantasy. I loved every page and lived every moment. What a ride. Action-packed but so emotionally charged and full of intrigue. Wow.
The story is told through the eyes of three uniquely distinctive characters. You would think I would have a favourite. That I would mourn the passing of one character-driven chapter to pick up the thread of the next but I didn’t. I was so invested in each character that it just flowed. That is a really hard and really impressive ability to maintain throughout an entire book.
I particularly liked the Asian feudal feel to it. It was refreshingly different from the medieval European fantasy that is the standard trope. The nomadic Levanti, horse lords and fearsome warriors were reminiscent of ancient Mongols and the Khans only instead of Steppe ponies they rode towering horses. The Empire of Kisia had hints of ancient China but woven into a unique creed and history.
The story is left on a knife-edge for all three of our protagonists and I can’t complain having been guilty of a few cliffhanger endings myself. It just means I’m going to have to buy the second book….oh wait I already have.
If you love fantasy then I highly recommend this book. ‘Take a look inside’ and if that first chapter doesn’t grab you then maybe you need to take a long hard look at yourself.