Overall, I liked this book. There were some moments that I loved, and some I didn’t. And someday when the second one comes out, I’ll buy it. So here’s my thoughts:
I never really connected with the characters. The brothers felt stiff to me, and the sister was involved in a plot that didn’t interest me (palace intrigue). I’ve come to conclude that I like a fair amount of banter between characters, whether they like each other or not. I like a bit of light dialog, stuff that isn’t entirely focused on the plot, but rather feels like a normal conversation. The dialog in this book felt a bit plot driven, which did its part to keep me at a distance. This is purely a matter of personal taste, as are most of the things I didn’t absolutely love.
That said, Malcolm’s storyline held my interests more than the other two. He faced more challenges and it was a scene with him and some ether ghouls that ended up being my favorite bloody mess. It was intense and I was totally engrossed in the story during that scene. It was brilliant and written superbly. Loved it! Not to mention his Fivescore. Really great group that I wish we... well, no spoilers.
I disliked Gwendoline’s storyline just as a matter of personal taste. As I said above, I do not linger long on palace intrigue, and her section was lengthy at times. I must say she was the more fleshed out character, and if her storyline would have been switched with Malcolm’s, I would have enjoyed this book even more.
Jerrith’s story fell in the middle for me. I was curious how things would play out and it held my attention. However, just as with Malcolm, he felt stiff. Again, a bit of banter or casual dialog could have pulled me in more to his story.
Now, all these different story threads come together at the end. The final confrontation is well done. However, I’m not sure how I feel about the last few chapters. It kinda left me... cold. Looks like there will be a second book and I’m definitely curious about it. Things were wrapped up, if not a little bit hastily, but there was plenty dangling that could carry into a new story. Rest assured, if you have issues with cliffhangers, you’re safe from those here. There’s a few lose ends, but like I said, it didn’t leave me begging for answers. It was merely an outlet for future books.
The magic system was interesting. The mages had to “dose” on a resin to enhance their abilities and allow them to perform magic. But doing so marked them and they live in a place were mages are not welcomed. Gave it an interesting twist.
I will say the writing, for me, was clean and flowed very nicely. When I was engaged, I was completely there and it was beautiful. Towards the end it loosened up a bit and I can see that in the second book there might be a bit more that could lend itself to my taste.
So, in conclusion, if you like a bit of palace intrigue, an interesting magic system, and a good overall plot, you’ll definitely enjoy the book.