The continuing adventures of Christopher Sinclair, mechanical engineer turned priest of war.
Christopher, raised from the dead and promoted to a moderate rank, takes command of the army regiment he trained and equipped. Sent south to an allegedly easy posting, he finds himself in the way of several thousand rabid dog-men. Guns and fortifications turn back the horde, but Christopher has other problems that cannot be solved with mere firepower: a wicked assassin; hostile clergymen; dubious allies including a bard, Lalania, with a connection to a mysterious group of scholars; and worst of all his own impolitic tongue. But all of these pale into mere distractions once he discovers the true enemy: an invisible, mind-eating horror who plays the kingdom like a puppet-master’s stage. Lalania claims she can help–but will it be enough?
Man, I’ve had a bit of a rough go at it lately. In addition to the previously DNF’d Since You Been Gone, I’ve also DNF’d a third book which I didn’t bother posting about here because it was a historical romance, something I’d picked up for a change of pace more than anything. As I said before, I don’t normally post DNF reviews because for the most part it’s a case of me not being the right reader for a particular book, it happens. I decided to make the exception for this book because as I noted in my Stacking the Shelves post: I loved Sword of the Bright Lady. It was on my favorites list from 2014. I loved the way it took an ordinary man and dropped him into a medieval world. I loved watching him trying to figure everything out. I loved watching him bring change like a tsunami washing over the land. So when the publisher asked me if I wanted to read this, it was with great delight that I said yes.
And then I tried to read it.
The book picks up where the last off: Christopher has been resurrected after his ignominious defeat at the end of the last book. It’s decided that the only way to continue his mission is to elevate him to grant him status in more line with the position he holds and to give him more flexibility to do what needs to be done. Fair enough. But then the book spends almost entire first half feeling very much like a tutorial in things a newly minor noble needs to take care of. Expanding his armies, expanding his smithies, talking to important people. It’s all very mundane. The hostile clergymen show up in the first half, but by this point it still doesn’t feel like it’s leading up to anything. Ultimately, it’s taking way too long for such a short book to get going. It could still work if the characters were given enough to do to care about them enough to help push you through this set-up. Outside of one interesting (albeit very brief) scene with implied female-on-male sexual assault, however, that just doesn’t happen.
Ultimately, I feel like the story here has just ground to a halt and wasn’t worth continuing to press through. That said, I continue to recommend Sword of the Bright Lady which does work decently as a stand alone novel.