3.5 stars. Rounding up as usual for the site named after a river in South America.
Snapshot: I had pretty high hopes, and this tale still exceeded them. The plot moves smoothly and develops to a snappy action finale, the dialogue flowed naturally, characters were well-defined and interesting, and the world-building is presented through action more than explanation. The writing was even free from most of the indie-publishing/small press irritations that that grate on me (‘tho that’s to be expected from MuseItUp. Their editors and proofers do good work.)
Books are food comparison: dinner at a favorite diner. Nothing mind-blowing, but always satisfying. Could return every week (or as often as budgeting allows) happily order more of the same thing off the menu, and never get tired of it.
This is the first in a series, and the story takes its time with meticulous set-up and development prior to the Inciting Event. My reading preferences being skewed towards something more like immersion therapy, I was ready for things to go haywire a heck of a lot sooner than they did. Chekov’s gun, meet Damocles sword of plotting. It’s called Forging Day. I knew, as a reader, that Something Was Going To Happen. Everything on the page before that was interesting, but the impending Change due to happen at any moment distracted me from appreciating the minor dramas as much as they deserved.
There is sex: explicit sex, and some in situations that leaned on the consent line. I mention this because the dangers of unhealthy relationships and the protagonist’s maturation from passive victim to active agent are elements fundamental to the plot as well as to the character’s development. I thought the issues were handled with finesse and skill. I like more emphasis on sensuality and less on mechanics in my erotica, but there are plenty of happy sheet-rumpling scenes, and plenty of variety too.
It’s a large cast, but most of the characters conformed to archetypes that made them easy to remember without falling into stereotypes. (The distinction is a fine one, others may disagree) My only complaint is that the focus on quirks and memorable hooks obscured the depth of their personalities. I was pleasantly intrigued by glimpses of that complexity, and I have every faith that they have depth…but most of them never got a chance to show off. The action moved fast once it started, and kept moving right to the finale.
Basically the story’s strengths are in some ways also its weaknesses. Which doesn’t tell you what you need to know, and that’s this: is it worth a read?
3.5 stars means I like it, but figure it will appeal to some, and not all.
So, it depends. f you read fantasy fiction of the classic or urban variety, if you do tabletop gaming or have ever been a noob, if you enjoy creative anachronism, or hot chicks kissing, if you get a kick about stories with mutant dinosaurs, motorcycles, or MORE COWBELL–if any or all of those references made you smile, then give this book book a read and follow the author so you won’t miss the next installment.