My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a well balanced fantasy tale where the author the only fault I could find might be with the pacing in places. The story opens with a clan of raiders [aka vikings] fleeing the subjugation of a growing [malevolent] power back home and landing at a coastal backwater outpost of a large and powerful [and somewhat decadent Holy Romanesque] empire. After narrowly avoiding potentially genocidal conflict on the beach with a well timed betrayal, we get to the main plot ... can two disparate groups learn to get along to face the coming dangers together ... and they are huge. The demon leader of the clans has sent his minions in pursuit of the raiders and the Imperial Marshall is just as likely to wipe out this little social experiment once he hears about it.
The author does an awesome job manufacturing little points of conflict by exploring social differences and norms with the obvious solution being the new hybrid community needs to take the best of both worlds (from the author's POV). I found the flash-points to be very relatable and the resolutions to be believable (mostly) and that certainly helped move the plot along driven primarily by two main POV (the leader of the raiders and the leader of the town). While a fair amount of the plot might be predicable, I generally always felt that the author COULD have gone different ways in several situations, and it was fun to try and guess which way the story would go (no real big surprises through if you like those).
The other POV seem to be there for world building and setting the stage for the big finish at the end of the series (fortunately we do see a conclusion to the main plot of this book ... so the story stands on its own should you not wish to continue). If you don't enjoy the world building, the story may drag a bit with these other POVs, but I was so intrigue by the movement of all of the chessmen here that I really liked it ... I am looking forward to reading the sequel.
I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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