*I received an ecopy of this book from the author. This has not influenced my review.*
I’ve read some high fantasy, enough to have gotten used to the concept of entirely different lands and countries and all that, but those were mostly about romance or focused tightly on one or two characters. This was the first book I’ve read that I would call epic fantasy, one with a quest (or maybe a journey?), a lot of characters, and a more all-encompassing story. But when you want to branch out to new genres, you gotta start somewhere, right? And it was the twins mentioned in the blurb that caught my interest because I’ve been wanting books about close or interesting family relationships. I was also in the mood for something without romance. Plus I needed a break from urban fantasy. So this book fit all those requirements nicely.
I think though that epic fantasy may not be quite for me. I couldn’t keep up with, and honestly wasn’t that interested in, all the lands and relations among them and politics and rebellions and wars and leaders and trading and geography and history and descriptions of places. However, I do respect that the author clearly put A LOT of thought and detail into this world and how it all works.
I also prefer a closer third person POV. It wasn’t omniscient, but it wasn’t super deep in the characters’ minds either. So I felt like I never really got much emotion from Belwynn (there were lots of POVs, but hers was used most often), and I didn’t get as much from the twin relationship as I had wanted.
What I did enjoy though was the motley crew of characters who went on the quest to get Toric’s Dagger back. Each character had a unique personality, and they felt believable. My favorites were Herin, Clarin, and Soren. Herin was not the most likeable per se since he was hot-headed and impatient, but he got things done and was kind of entertaining to me, and he was still not a bad person. (Well, good and bad are very relative terms here since I’m not sure anyone in the group, except maybe one or two of them, were “good” considering most of them were thieves or mercenaries or murderers. But my point is, Herin seemed no worse a person than the others in the group.) Clarin, on the other hand, was generally good-natured and unflappable—nothing ever seemed to worry or bother him—but he was this massive guy who everyone [who didn’t know him] was afraid of (albeit rightly so since he used to a mercenary and could fight). And Soren was just… interesting. Skilled with magic, intelligent, ambitious, able to think quickly, and, it turns out, maybe a little obsessive, as well as ruthless when he wanted to be. And each character in the group had their own motives, desires, inner demons, etc.
The fact that Clarin never seemed to experience anxiety of any kind annoyed Belwynn, who often found herself worrying twice as hard about things in order to make up for it.
There was even a bit of humor included in a way that flowed naturally from the characters and their actions, dialogue, and thoughts. There were also some intense and disturbing and gritty moments though. And there was a mix of both fast-paced action scenes and slower-paced sections of travel and politics.
So overall, I don’t think epic fantasy is ever going to be my favorite genre since I wasn’t very into the politics, geography, etc., but I’m tempted to continue this series because I liked the developed, flawed, interesting characters!
Anyone who likes epic fantasy, intricate fantasy worlds, magic, and motley crews.