I picked this up as a recommendation from some of the BookTube community.
For starters, this is a pretty big. Well over 500 pages, or 22 hours of audio.
And yet, it feels like the first act of a three-act story. It is the first part of a trilogy, so setting up the story would make sense, but that’s all this seems to do.
The entire book is just collecting a bunch of characters together and only right at the end do they head off on what is the actual story.
The characters are interesting and their journey to the city where they all end up is fine. I can’t yet see how their traits and skills will intertwine with the larger goal — they have been specifically chosen, this isn’t some haphazard group — and they are all interesting, but eveything is hinted at and we don’t get any real payback. That makes it very frustrating.
There’s some action, with the second-to-last chapter being a breathless blast, but the rest is backstory that I assume doesn’t actually feed into the bigger picture and is just there to create rounded characters. And they are that, I can’t fault the character creation. I mean yes, it does rely on some cliches, but it adds something to each to help avoid a complete copy-paste of stereotypes. The feel like they have dirt under their fingernails, rather than being pristine creations.
Steven Pacey does a fantastic job narrating — bringing the characters to life and distinct enough that you never feel lost as to who is talking despite the vast array of characters.
I’ll be honest and say that, despite the little in the way of plot development I would happily pick up the next in the trilogy just to see what happens to the characters. That’s probably a good sign.