As usual, my disclaimers:
1. I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.
2. Reading is subjective. This is merely my opinion, and, for me, 3 stars is a good thing, not bad. Three means I enjoyed the book and I didn't struggle to get through it.
I won’t go into my usual likes and dislikes sections. They’ll just run together. My main complaint about the book is that it felt rushed. The characters are different from one another in their motivation and voice, which is great because there are quite a few of them. With that said, because the book felt rushed, I don’t think they were developed as well as they could have been. I think I read in another review that the reviewer wished this would have been lengthened to two or three books and I couldn’t agree more. There was plenty of ‘action’ and the story moved quickly, which again is great. But the scenes themselves felt rushed through, lacking some of the sensory inputs and details that would have immersed me completely. Some sections I was pulled into the story beautifully. For instance, the interactions between the king and prince are possibly the strongest scenes, in my opinion. The battles scenes were the weakest for me because, as I said, they felt rushed. However, Ms. Axe's descriptions of the forests are very nice.
I think my favorite character is Aelryk, the prince. I found myself more interested in him than the other characters. I won’t spoil it, but I think it’s because he was pulled in two directions. Inner turmoil is my fav in characters. Yori was my least favorite, probably because his story didn’t seem to fit into the book. I made no real connection with him and the main story (other than a few coincidental meetings that didn’t really lead to anything major). I honestly felt like his was a set up to maybe a second book in the series, but I don’t know that there will be one.
I found that time moved oddly in this book. One day the prince is in the castle, then he’s fighting in the Wildlands, then he’s back at the castle. There’s no mention to travel times and there’s no map so it made it feel like it all happened in a day. Possible, but improbable. Marching an army takes time, then the attack, then the march back. It’s another reason the book felt rushed. Of course, this could just be my personal preference. I need to know, even if it’s just a sentence or a sense of time, how they got from point A to point B. Though I’m not a map follower when I read, I do look at them before I start so I can get a feel for distances and where stuff is. Without either in this book, I found myself floating through what felt like a really really long day.
There were some unfortunate info dumps that were all the more apparent because the tenses switched between present and past. I easily made it through them, although I think the information could have been woven nicely into the story itself. Again, perhaps if it were longer.
So in conclusion, this was a good read, fast and short, but left me wanting a more in-depth book. I guess that ‘but’ in and of itself is a good thing.