I’ve been eagerly anticipating this story as this author’s previous series have been enormous hits with me. But almost immediately I was struggling to finish this book which was written in a different format from the author’s books.
In a nutshell, it’s wordy, dry, very dense, narratively overwhelming with too many characters. And, while imaginative, it’s format of a huge amount of POVs makes it almost impossible to connect with or even follow all the many plot lines.
Turner is clearly striving for that epic cast of hundreds type of fantasy steampunk adventure. Where masses of characters come streaming over the horizon, raiding trains, pour out over airships, massive explosive battles., capturing castles. Thousands die by magical blasts , bodies flying through the air. Add in poison, in every form, and revenants. Aka The walking dead.
This book has wonderful ideas about world building. Massive amounts of information about the kingdoms, countries, and even the planet Maricol. All as told to.
The rating is for all the imaginative details and world building.
What I’m missing is what I love about her other novels. That’s her characters , the depth of personality, their relationship and growing dynamics with other characters. Main characters. People who counted. I miss caring about anyone. I miss the great dialogue. .
Here , the Gods who pulls all the narrative strings, so to speak, have no emotions, their eternal lifespan having removed that pesky thing.
So people start dying immediately. Children, adults. I’d say don’t get attached but the reader doesn’t spend enough time with anyone to generate enough emotion to become invested in the lives here.
More like, huh, poisoned. Oh, revenant got him. Yes, zombies .
There’s a staggering amount of POVs, over 14 I believe. That’s not counting all the tons of characters that get mentioned or have dialogue. The size of the cast here is mind boggling. And you get them all immediately, well, a lot of them.
With an ever increasingly dense and expanding universe that the author adds layer upon layer of complicated mythology and political world building as the story moves forward, it’s a wonder that any reader can maintain a idea of what’s happening within the storylines let alone have any meaningful connection to it.
You basically need a Epic Steampunk Fantasy version of a murder board to keep track of everything and everyone’s relationships. That includes the “Star Gods” , who have their own warped dynamics going on. Then all the various kingdoms, their politics, all the wars, the history such as it is. The planet’s history, which is minimal, and needs more detail.
The story swings from POV to POV, changing drama to a different perspective and potential disaster , that you’ve barely settled on one then you’ve sailed onto the next.
If you’re looking for romance, there’s little of that here. At least for now. But you can have fantastic characters with remarkable personalities, and deep emotional connections without a romantic factor. None of that is really present here. It’s more about all the things, the themes, plotting, world building, details. Something had to give.
And at the end. There’s a cliffhanger.
I honestly didn’t care . But for those that have a issue with cliffhangers, be warned.
I’m trying to weigh if the great universe makes it worth proceeding for me. I don’t think so because for me it’s about the characters and relationships, as well as giving them a great foundation.
You need a heart to power the story, not just a reality fabulous structure.
And I think Hailey Turner has lost the heart here no matter what that opening sentence says.
Every country is built on revolution.
THE WARDEN. Soren is a nameless, stateless man, tasked with keeping watch over Maricol’s borders. He isn’t meant for politics, only dealing with the dead. His past was buried in the poison fields, but after a fateful encounter with a prince, Soren comes to realize he can’t keep what magic burns inside him hidden forever.
THE PRINCE. Vanya Sa’Liandel was the spare who survived the Houses’ murderous games to become the Imperial crown prince of Solaria. He has a duty to his country, but he’ll owe his life to the wardens. Payment of any kind is costly, especially when he’s at risk of losing his heart to the man who saved his life.
THE COG. Caris Dhemlan hears the siren song of clarion crystals better than anyone in Ashion. That skill for inventing has enriched her bloodline, but it’s who she can become that will ultimately entangle her with the Clockwork Brigade.
THE PRINCESS. Eimarille Rourke should have been raised to be queen of one country; instead, she is prisoner of another. Guided by a star god, Eimarille bides her time in a gilded cage, spinning a political web to gain a throne and start a war the world isn’t ready for.
From the author who brought you the Soulbound series comes a queer steampunk-inspired epic fantasy.