Read for the SPFBO, this is the first book that I chose to further consider out of my initial 30, trying to whittle them all down to a single title to put forward to the other judges.
This book stands out initially because of the author’s backlist of decent books, and also that one of the main characters is older than most main POV characters that we usually see. He’s a warrior who has earned the trust of a king and queen, has already buried a wife and has a new family, and is seemingly retired from war – his body old and aching from a hard life (so possibly nearing or into his 50s?) It’s a sharp contrast to the spoilt prince and his friends who are really quite childish, despite being teenagers.
They’re all shaken to their core when the night of celebration, where they usually receive gifts of magic from another realm, is instead riddled with chaos and bloodshed – monsters come instead of magic, and wipe out the king and queen, and most of the city.
From there it is an exciting and engaging fight to the last page in order to regroup and get their revenge, feuding characters who have to realign their alliances, and all over a good feast of world building with a decent class-system that really gives depth and feeling to this novel.
Overall this is a solid book of quality. There are no grammar or spelling errors that caught my eye, and the formatting is decent. The pace and writing voice are quality also – you can tell that this book has been edited more than once, and fine-tuned to where it doesn’t take any effort to read and keep reading – where a few of the other SPFBO books fall over is that they simply haven’t had as much time put into them, taking the words and working them again and again to make them better.
It helps that this has an interesting magic and class system – it builds on the genre, doing something a little different that will make those very familiar with the fantasy genre interested to see what happens next. At the same turn, that does make this book a little harder to pick up if a reader were new to the genre.
Overall, this is a strong contender, and recommended if you’ve been following along in the SPFBO journey.