I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.
I am sad to announce that I abandoned this book. Mostly for “it’s me not you” reasons – although not entirely…
1. I’m really not in an epic fantasy kinda zone at the moment – and “at the moment” has lasted for a few years now (albeit with a few exceptions – though not many). So that counts against it for me – but for anyone who’s really in that mood, I think this is probably a good option. It’s certainly epic (in a good way!).
2. I’m not really a – argh, I don’t like the term – grimdark fan. And I’m pretty sure this counts as such. Others have compared it to A Song of Fire and Ice, and while I’ve only seen the show not read the books that sounds like the right sort of comparison. So the style is really not for me. I don’t mind bad things happening to characters, but there’s something about unrelenting unpleasantness – especially before I care about any of the characters – that frustrates and bores and annoys me. So that’s a style issue that is my problem, not the book’s.
Then there’s the style thing that I had an issue with, and it’s the way sex in general and women on occasion are described. I’m not a complete prude, although I guess I’m closer to that end of the spectrum than not, but there’s something about descriptions like “he’d have had the little wagtail pinned against a wall long since” (64) or “Aside from a writhing woman pinned on his cock, was there anything better in the world than a lance in his hand, a grand horse between his legs, and a man before him a handful of heartbeats from defeat?” (15) that leave me not just cold, but actively uncomfortable. As for the women – I got to about page 90, and most women by this stage are dead, useless, or conniving. The wet-nurse clearly has gumption and I hope she’s allowed agency and smarts, but that’s about it.
So there it is. Not a book for me. I am sad because it’s an Australian female author… but not sad because it’s an epic series I don’t have to get invested in so that saves me some time… but sad because I really don’t like abandoning books.