Date Read: December 30, 2015
Whelp.... It got Better...
When I started this book I was really excited about it. As a fantasy world purportedly based on ancient Rome, it sounded like my bread and butter. But I was quickly disappointed with the world building. It IS Rome-based. But it's just the bland brutality and bloodlust of it, there's no culture. There's nothing of the high society elegance that Rome prided itself on, there's nothing on the intellectual innovation of the Empire, on their technology or philosophy or eccentricity, there's nothing but blood and ruin. Not only is it an excessively brutal universe, but the separation of Martial and Scholar is one I find rather insulting to the Roman Empire and to the Imperial concept as a whole. And none of the love-ish story lines were very convincing. There were moments of spark and heat and that giddy little flutter of fluff, but only moments, nothing sustained. None of the characters grew or changed very much and what DID evolve within them only happened within the last hundred pages.
Literally everything in this book that people have said is great about it was done a thousand times better in Winner's Curse than it was here...
It was alright, over all. It picked up significantly 2/3 through, and by the end I actually enjoyed the read. The first half at least was a slog of this was done better elsewhere and jeez these kids are annoying... None of the characters believes in the Empire, none of them believe in the Stories of the Tribes until well after they're proven true... There's no clash of culture because none of them actually HAVE a culture that they cling to... The most interesting character is a chick from the Tribes who shows up for one dance and one off-stage conversation and then disappears again, presumably to reappear with a more prominent role in the sequel... Honestly, I was very disappointed in this book, but it is nonetheless a decent read. I wouldn't recommend it, but I wouldn't caution firmly against it either.