This book had everything I look for in a synopsis: pirates, mages, Sherlock-esque characters and magic. Unfortunately for me it didn’t hit the level that I was hoping for.
Buc is supposed to be a sarcastic and Sherlock smart MC but she came across more crass, non-calculating and underhanded than I expected. Morally gray characters are my forte but Buc is taken to a level that didn’t do it for me. The foul language was over the top and the hateful remarks toward female characters from the MC was pretty abundant. I don't expect morally gray characters to be lovable but too much of her personality was not easy to like.
Eld (male sidekick) and Chan Sha (pirate queen) were the characters that held my interest the most. Chan Sha has a cunning and goddess suave about her that would have made her an epic heroine. Her story kept me flipping to the end. And Eld has a mastery at balancing the good and bad in people and situations. An overall perfect side character.
The world building is swift and the magic system follows the same swift build but tends to leave a lot to be desired. There is a lot of inner monologue and explanation occurring that tends to circle itself. The scenes that are bringing in the background don’t truly explain origin or the reason behind the Gods/Goddesses and you’re left feeling a little baffled (especially at the end). I think with high fantasy most readers expect the depth and explanation surrounding these facets of a story but in this one they just seem to exist. Unfolding as a new artifact or character emerges.
The epilogue is what gives me a lot of hope for the next book. With this debut novel I could see Van Loan turning the second novel into something amazing. Though the first book may not have been for me this was still a unique idea that shows promise for a fantasy lover like myself.
Thank you to Tor Books and Ryan Van Loan for the opportunity to read this advanced reader copy for an honest and unbiased opinion.