First things first, I enjoyed the book and got through it in two days (audio book while at work + reading at home). It's fast paced, well narrated and decently written. There are very heavy influences from Brandon Sanderson and some parts seem similar to the Stormlight Archives, but in general the world feels original.
With that said, there are some serious flaws, and I recommend that Shad hires a proper editor for his next book. The worldbuilding is frequently done in infodumps, sometimes it's hard to reconcile parts of the worldbuilding and some parts are practically from an anime. Also, "sunucles" is just an awful name.
Regarding the worldbuilding, some of it could be spread out across the book or just not mentioned at all. We don't need to know that criminals have the date their sentence ends etched onto their slave collars at the same time as we get a breakdown of the slavery system and Daylen's reforms, for instance, and truly subtle worldbuilding would be to spread all that information so that it naturally came out in the story. Other parts are just clunkily written, like how skyports are in the center of towns because the towns grew out and around them. The actual explanation is...I don't know, not exactly overexplained, but rather explained in a way that's stilted:
"As was common, the skyport sat in the middle of the city; not that they were built in the middle, just that once built, the cities often grew around them. They were the centers of trade and commerce. By the look of it, Talatale’s port was too small for the city’s trade, Daylen noted; there would likely be other smaller ports placed throughout in an attempt to compensate."
It just feels more mechanical and organic if you know what I mean.
Other parts of the worldbuilding also don't quite mesh. From all accounts the Fourth Night was apocalyptic and lasted fifteen years. This seems like the kind of thing that would depopulate major cities, but not too long afterwards there are medium sized cities of a million people. Even if the Fourth Night was was more similar to, say, the Great Famine of 1314-1317 than to the Black Death, fifteen years of "hell and darkness" sounds like it should have had a significant effect on the percentage of urban vs rural population.
Likewise, it's hard to believe that a city of "millions" could evacuate in a matter of a couple of hours, or that food would be less of a problem for an army of a hundred thousand men than combat because of cave mushrooms. The scale of things sometimes seems well past the technological status of the world and other times doesn't seem to have been fully considered.
Finally, some parts of the story are better suited to an anime than a book. That is, all the screaming and crying that the characters get up to feels borrowed from Japan. I'm not against characters emoting, but it's just excessive here. Every single bit of emotion has to be screamed or sobbed aloud to the world, and everyone in the world just seems to ignore the sound of someone literally screaming themselves to death (yes, that is a thing that happens) and not call the police on them.
I think all of these issues could be solved by Shad using a full editor, not a copy editor, who can dissect his writing and show him how to improve on it.
- Paperback: 504 pages
- Publisher: Shadiversity Pty Ltd (1 January 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0648572919
- ISBN-13: 978-0648572916
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.8 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 558 g
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)