Rating: I REALLY LIKED IT
Series: The Shadow Campaigns #1
Genres: Epic, Fantasy
Published by: Penguin
Publication Date: 2013-07-02
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Book Blurb: Enter an epic fantasy world that echoes with the thunder of muskets and the clang of steel—but where the real battle is against a subtle and sinister magic.... Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of one of the Vordanai empire’s colonial garrisons, was resigned to serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost. But that was before a rebellion upended his life. And once the powder smoke settled, he was left in charge of a demoralized force clinging tenuously to a small fortress at the edge of the desert. To flee from her past, Winter Ihernglass masqueraded as a man and enlisted as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials, hoping only to avoid notice. But when chance sees her promoted to command, she must win the hearts of her men and lead them into battle against impossible odds. The fates of both these soldiers and all the men they lead depend on the newly arrived Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, who has been sent by the ailing king to restore order. His military genius seems to know no bounds, and under his command, Marcus and Winter can feel the tide turning. But their allegiance will be tested as they begin to suspect that the enigmatic Janus’s ambitions extend beyond the battlefield and into the realm of the supernatural—a realm with the power to ignite a meteoric rise, reshape the known world, and change the lives of everyone in its path.
This is my last book from Comicon. I’m kinda sad. Anyway, here’s the review.
Soooooo, I was as disappointed in this book as I was engrossed. That might not make sense, but I feel like I’ve been sliced down the middle.
First and foremost, I don’t mind a slow beginning if I’m engaged in the storyline or learning of the world and characters. I can handle it. I’m even more understanding in second books where we have to be reminded for the first 50 or so pages what happened in book one. This was book one, so I was expecting setup. Heck, some of my favorite books have slow beginnings. However… 300 pages out of 500? That’s a bit much for me. Throw in the fact that for the first 200 pages it was mainly about an army marching with no action and I’m going to lose interest pretty darn quick. I’m not a big fan of books heavy on military strategy, and while I can’t say this one was overly done, it just wasn’t something that held my interest.
Honestly, if it wasn’t for Marcus, I would have put the book down, which should help explain my first sentence in this review. As bored as I was with the story, Marcus, Winter, and Janus were growing on me to the point I wanted to know more about them. It was tough though. I had to wade through long sections of stuff that didn’t captivate me.
Another reason I kept going was the writing itself. I liked it and sank into a nice trance of reading. I could lose myself in the world, uneventful as it was.
I admit, around page 250, I started skimming. Maybe I’ve had different expectations set because of some other books I’ve read that are based on a military campaign. I felt very distance from the battles—when there were any—unless I was in Winter’s PoV. Even then, sometimes I felt like I got yanked out of the story and told this battalion went over yonder, the second over there, and the third did this. I guess it needed to be done, but for a reader that can get easily bored with that type of action, it pushed me further from the story. Not all were that way, but the first few felt odd to me. Again, it’s just different from my experiences, so it probably won’t bother too many others.
The last 200 pages were a blast. The campaign was nearing an end and some awesome stuff started happening. I got more attached to Marcus and Janus. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about them.
By the time I finished, I was ranting to my poor husband how torn I was about the book. It was soooo long in the beginning, but I loved the end. And though I never went character crazy, I really did enjoy Marcus and Janus.
This is the second book I’ve picked up that uses guns in a fantasy setting. Honestly, I was indifferent. It wasn’t played up, so it faded into the background for me. Nothing unique or fascinating about it.
By the way, the cover really has nothing to do with book. I honestly don’t understand where a cloaked figure came from. Maybe later on, but it kind of misleads a bit. Don’t expect some assassination type rogue character. I did see that there’s another cover version with a guy holding a gun. It fits much better.
So in the end, I’ll buy the second book one day, just so I can continue with Marcus. And I am a fan of Wexler’s writing, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for other adult fantasy stories he might write.