While the prior book might have been a slug through a bog this one was a rain-drenched battle and all the feelings that come along with it.
From what I gather (and I might be wrong) 4 years have passed since our last tracking of Shivers who has returned to the north and found himself with Black Dow. It’s been long enough that my mind had a bit of issue trying to recall all the players and their grievances but that’s a small matter to the setting. More of me trying to remember what First Magi Bayez last did, remembering the Union King–Gorst certainly reminded us of his fall in Simpani. Again, little consequence.
This was more of a homecoming. Terrain we understand, people we came to know and now we have the Union and Black Dows band coming to a head. A few perspectives from Generals to new kids in a sword-take (enlistment/draft), the back and forth–both literally and figuratively. Those with spines, those without, cunning and cowardice taking all the forms the human condition does.
All while slowly alluding once again to the shadow war that these proxies battle for.
Such interesting times in this world.
The writing is superb, well thought out, characterizations feel spot on. I think my favorite character of the book was Bremer dan Gorst. We met him ages ago in a rigged bout where he lost. This high-pitched/falsetto of a giant man has an internal dialog of a mad poet. Which is awesome because he does not speak much–due to his failures, due to his voice, due to circumstance, but his reflections on the world and the purity he desires from it within a fight that he cares not to live or not is just perfect in the moment.
That’s not saying the book is not rife with other great characters. Lord Marshal Kroy with a good understanding of the battle and his simpering fools of Generals. Finree dan Brock an ambitious wife who gets a good look at battle and comes out better(?) for it? Curnden Craw, a northern straight-edge who really endears us with what it is to live long enough to bury so many others–friends and foes alike.
The turmoil, psychology, weather, pitched battles, and a penchant for so much we don’t understand. I really enjoyed this moment in The First Law series.