When the high sovereign of the rapidly industrializing realm of Ghavarim is murdered by a mysterious assassin, the rulers of the five kingdoms of the Federation are plunged into a vicious power struggle. Jason Tern, a noble captain from the borderlands, must battle shadowy half-human assailants with limbs of brass and steel while untangling an ever-widening web of lies and intrigue to discover the true identity of the killer before mounting tensions spark a bloody civil war.
Meanwhile, Nilya Valsu, a brilliant army engineer running from a hidden past, finds herself used as an unwitting pawn in an explosive plot with deadly consequences. Wracked by guilt, her sole chance for redemption lies with a man who would loathe her - but only if he knew her secret.
As the conflict intensifies between the magic-fueled technology of the opulent Westerners and the disaffected rebels of the war-torn East, all must fight for what they hold dear. Who will control the mysterious source of magical energy that beats at the heart of Ghavarim? Who will seize the sprawling capital as the musket smoke wafts over the horizon? And when the rapiers are sheathed, who will lie bloodied on the ground in the light of a vanishing glow?
©2015 Alexis Radcliff (P)2015 Alexis Radcliff
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"Series shows promise"
I really enjoyed some of the characters and enjoyed the world
I didn't really like the performance, several words were mispronounced.
I'll pick up the rest of the series when it comes out. There was a fair amount of world building preparing for future books that I think will pay off well.
Significantly reduced the time spent of the Female POV who spend too much time whining about a past romance.
It took a bit to set up the world but once it got going it was quite enjoyable and I look forward to future novels
"Magic on the edge of the industrial revolution"
3.5 / 5
The book is made up of two stories, told concurrently. They interact slightly but for the most part are two separate stories set in the same world. One of these stories is great while the other is a little lackluster.
The story following Jason Tern is great, full of political intrigues, double crosses, fights, discussions on the industrial revolutions etc. It builds to a great climax with repercussions for the entire Federation.
The other story, with Nilya Valsu, is less interesting. While it provides some more context for the world, gives us more culterual understand, and allows us to see several different aspects (such as the healers) ultimately I don't feel it mattered that much. It's a "small story" in among the big events of Jason's story. I was expecting it to build into Jason's story eventually and affect the final events but other than a few minor things (that could have been accomplished without Nilya's story being told) it didn't really play into them. It's climax, while important for Nilya, doesn't have the same impact as Jason's. Maybe the two will build together in Part 3.
The mix of magic and the industrial revolution (Mystech) is well thought out and really interesting. There doesn't need to be the science-based magical laws governing the magic like Rothfuss or Sanderson, but it is also not the almost "whatever goes" of Rowling.
The book touches of philosophical and ethical arguments around "technology is taking our jobs" and doing 'bad' to prepare the Federation for something worse that is coming.
Overall certainly worth the time to read.
Another quick thing to note: the murder of the High Sovereign mentioned at the start of the book blurb doesn't actually happen until 4 hours in, or more than half way through Part 1. So while it is a catalyst for some of the events it's not quite the kickoff that the blurb makes it out to be. The blurb could even be considered a bit of a spoiler, as you know that event is coming. Even the cover image could be considered a slight spoiler.
Narration by Burke was also a 3.5 / 5. Enjoyable and easy to follow, well paced etc. Burke differentiates characters fairly well.
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