Brandon Sanderson blurbed this book....so of course I needed it in my life.
And boy, it did NOT disappoint.
A sarcastic anti-hero with gray morals? Check, check check.
This does not feel like a debut fantasy. It is rich in lore and showcases an expert level narrative, 100% of which features our aloof though haunted main hero, Michael Kingman, being roped into other people's deadly shenanigans while simultaneously trying to uncover the mystery of why his father allegedly killed the Prince of Hollow and resultingly doomed the Kingman family legacy. And on top of that, the structure of this book is absolutely brilliant. I've never read a book quite like this one, where each and every chapter feels like it's own distinct story, a setup, a climax, a resolution, and the setup for the next chapter. I loved how this felt like a single take action movie, where Michael rarely just sits, eats, sleeps. He's out and about, getting pulled into adventurous schemes and ambushes and confrontations. And the author does a fantastic job of describing just enough of the context to allow the mind's eye to picture a scene, without bogging it down with unnecessary description. It's hard to describe, but it's an absolutely cinematic experience reading this.
For epic fantasy readers who love a little chaos and a mischievous, deadpan main character, this story is absolutely scrumptious. The first half feels like the reader isn't in the loop, like there was a prequel I missed, but the second half makes it all so much more rewarding as the pieces fall into place. Nick Martell is a new auto-buy author of mine. I'm scrambling frantically for the next installment in this enthralling series.