This is the worst book I’ve read this year. The editing is simply atrocious. It reminds me in some ways of the early Black Company books, the Annals as written by Croaker. Like those, there’s a rough introduction to a new world through the eyes of one very familiar with it. Like Croaker, the narrator here is leaving out mountains of data that might incriminate him.
And like those early books, I have a heck of a time figuring out all of what’s going on. If you focus on the character, you’re OK. If you know enough of the history to realize correspondences (Deves are Jews, Pramas are Muslims, Peter is Gustav?, the Andorans are Norsemen, Brothe is Rome and I think Draenger is Andalusia), you can do OK—if not, they’re just random fantasy place-names. If you don’t have a sense of the sweep of the second millennium in Europe, a whole bunch of the history happening next to this book is going to be unreadably confusing.
At some point, a more dedicated fan than I will publish a dictionary mapping Cook’s terms to the real ones. I’m still not sure who the Dainshau are. Zoroastrians? Very early Druze? Until then, I think anyone can read it if he focuses on the characters and not the sweep of history. This will become more clear when the sequels appear. Until then, I suspect that I’d have enjoyed the book more if they just stuck to real names for most things, using fantastic names only for fantastic entities.
This is one more element of troublingly bad editing at Tor Books. Maybe it’s intentional—maybe this is part of this narrator’s voice. Maybe it’s just the sloppiness of a new editor working with a revered master-author. I’m not inside Tor, so I don’t know why or how this happened. I do know that many of the sentences are incomplete, a number use the wrong made-up fantasy analogue-name, and a few are quite hard to understand.
Approach this book with caution.
Books read this year: 28