|Series:Tales of the Verin Empire #1||Rating: 3.75/5|
|Date of Publishing: June 2017 (first pub dec. 5th 2014)||Genre: fantasy, military fantasy|
|Publisher: self-published||Available: Amazon|
|Number of pages: 667||Author’s website: https://www.verinempire.com/|
Quote of the Book
“Tam was torn, drawn by basic humanity to offer some sort of comfort to someone so obviously suffering, but held back by a terrible chill he felt so close to the otherworldly specter. He wavered there a moment, until his reverie was broken by a hand laid softly on his shoulder, and the captain murmured, “Don’t let them touch you. You can’t help them.”
Tammen looked up and saw there were more coming, dozens of vague figures of fog drifting slowly from the trees, clustering around the low sand walls. The spirits had little respect for each other’s space, drifting heedlessly through one another. More and more of them flowed from the forest, gradually becoming an amorphous wall of fog, with miserable faces briefly visible amid the jumble. There were men, women, and even children, their mouths opening and closing in silent entreaties.”
To the north sits Thyesten, the ancient Lich King of Gedlund. He has banished death, and for countless centuries ruled a land where ghosts, vampires, and other wicked undead keep men in feudal servitude. Elsewhere in the world, human civilization has flourished, and with rifle and iron rail, the power of the Elves has been banished at last. Foremost among the great modern nations is the Verin Empire, and with their prosperity threatened by forces the Elves once kept in check, they find themselves rushing headlong into war with Thyesten’s Kingdom of the Dead. Tammen Gilmot is a young soldier sent to defend the Verin Empire’s colonial frontier who finds himself swept up into this reckless new campaign, pitting rifle and cannon against Gedlund’s ruthless Everlords and their legions of the dead. In the goblin-infested southern frontier, the sprawling metropolis of Gemmen, and the haunted northern kingdom of Gedlund, the modern world wars against the past as Tammen tries to find his place in the forming of history. Gedlund is the story of a young man's rise to responsibility amid battles between humanity and the terrors of the distant past. Drawing inspiration from Lord of the Rings, Catch-22 and our own late 19th century, William Ray’s debut novel features a complex and nuanced world of memorable characters and unique perspectives on life in worlds of classic fantasy.
This has been on my tbr for ages, so when we got a request from author, I was excited to have a reason to move it up to the top of my list.
Song of the Book
This marching drumbeat in this song, made this a no-contest choice for this story.
Tammen Gilmon is a scholarly young man with goals to make a career out of his writings – in particular, travelogues. Unable to afford travelling, he hopes to help jumpstart his career and travel, by joining the army.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t go to some of the more mundane destinations he expects and for his first time out, he is sent into the thick of things holding the line against Goblins. Which is how he ended up under Captain Valdemar Hoskaaner’s command and subsequently on his way to Gedlund.
We see the bulk of this story through Tammen. He is kind of a serious guy who puts his best effort into everything he does including helping others. I liked him and that we feel just as out of sorts and uncomfortably green as he does in the beginning. He starts settling in, and us along with him and it’s a comfortable read with a nice easy voice.
For that reason, the point of view change about midway was probably my biggest grievance. I’m not sure if it was the suddenness of having character’s that up until then we only saw briefly through Tam’s eyes, or if it was a little because neither were characters I cared about. But whatever it was, the change in POV jarred me out of my relaxed viewpoint.
I do understand why the change was needed, especially in the back-end where it helps to keep the scope of the battle as large as it was (luckily by then I was used to Gus, so it was comfortable again).
The world is a neat mix of goblins, elves, and other ghostly things, eerie creatures, and the very cool Everlords – Gedlund’s version of vampires.
I enjoyed the setting – it was atmospheric and there is a good sense of gradual creepiness with each encounter they have with the Everlords, making a nice build to the end.
I’m going to go on a bit here because I really love military fantasy. I don’t know what it is about it but I like the guns, the uniforms, even the silliness of some of the requirements. I like the order – everything has a place, a path, a chain of command – it all fits together and somehow the chaos of hundreds of soldiers manage to become a large-scale working instrument (and to think I can’t get three people to use a laundry basket) – they either do their job well, or the whole unit stands a chance of falling apart.
So as military fantasys go, I found a lot to like in this one. There’s a lot of battles which get progressively bigger until the finale. There are organising troops, gun use, and marching – some of my favorite parts were the parade row marching and just any of the scenes where they had to keep or use a tempo. I especially loved the use of sound combined with the visuals to bring the scenes alive.
I also like knowing how things work. I maybe don’t want it to be in-depth for pages and pages but the insights and little details included here and there of everything; from bookkeeping and requisitioning gear, to moving the army – be it equipment, people, or just the large guns that have to be broken down for the ships or hauled across the land and put back together etc. this was totally my jam.
I appreciated those kinds of small details for helping to round out the world and adding that bit of realism to the inner workings of an army that is essentially the equivalent of a small-town worth of people. And this is one of the few books I’ve read where the war actually felt larger than just the company that our MC, Tam, belongs to. I don’t know if it was the imagery (the one I had in my head of that lightning golem stamping across the field of soldiers was pretty great) or what, but the battles felt huge – as if an actual army was there.
Some of the battles did get a little long. I personally think one in particular would have been more impactful having Tam and co. arrive in the aftermath but that’s my opinion. Though, I would have missed the cool parade march to ‘show off’ to the city and that would have been a shame.
This is a good solid story. I enjoyed it and it’s definitely worth checking out.
I liked the somewhat political turn the plot took.
Nicely placed foreshadowing to remind us of certain things we may have forgotten so when they came about in the final battle, they felt right.
Self contained story.
The logs/notes at the beginning of the chapter are a lot of fun, add a lot to the story and by the time you get to the end fill in some details that you may have not have realized you were going to want to know.
This review was written by Jen (BunnyReads)