Ulric, former war hero, has been living a quiet life of exile in the frontier city of Quinport and wants only to continue hiding from the mistakes of his past. But then he discovers the invention of a revolutionary new kind of rifle, and worse, the ruling Coalition discovers his identity. Rather than be blackmailed into service, Ulric goes to leave the city with the new rifles, but first he will need more money, or more help.
Enter Dellioph, no mere bard, who just arrived to Quinport and wants only to play his music and to keep his secrets. But trying to do both lands him directly in the path of one of the Coalition Chancellors, who wants to use Dellioph, and his secrets, for himself. Unable to scheme his way out entirely, Dellioph must choose to keep his secrets, his freedom, or his music. But when the choice is between anything and his music, it’s no choice at all.
And Gali, future chief of the Odagna, who wants nothing more than to save her people, even if that means forcing them to change. She disobeys her father, lies to her people, and travels to the Coalition city to learn how to do some of the things they do— making and using muskets foremost among them. But the people of the Coalition are not ready to accept the Teo, and Gali will be forced to learn the hard way that a renegade’s only friend is another renegade.
Meanwhile, two mysterious strangers from opposite sides of the world come hunting a sorcerer who has unbelievable power, a hunger for more, and dragons… but they are nothing like the stories.
This story is the first in a flintlock fantasy story following several main points of view. We have Ulric, a former war hero who still works at small jobs here and there while also trying to keep secrets from his past hidden. Dellioph is a bard travelling through the kingdom and he also has a secret he’s trying to keep, one of the magical kind this time. And Gali is a young warrior from the Odagna who is head strong and wants to help her people survive their conflict with the coalition. There are some other characters too. The stories start off separate and slowly connect as the book goes on.
This is a character driven story that had me hooked from the beginning. The frontier that the story takes place in has lots of great history of the old world mixed in that we learn about. The old world meets new world vibe was really great in this. I feel like there will be more of this in future books but I loved what was set up here, especially with the prologue and Devo’s character.
I’m a character driven reader and I just really loved that aspect of this book. Dellioph, Ulric and Gali are all great to follow and were my favourites. Their stories are separate but from the start they all make their way to the same city so you can see that they will connect at some point. The author does a great job of keeping each story fun, easy to follow and also interweaves them all together while never sacrificing character development to do so. When they do all meet up things get really interesting and the action packed conclusion was a lot of fun.
There is the aspect of music and magic in this that I really loved and am so curious to see more of. Some of these parts were my favourite to read and I don’t think I’ve read a music scene in a fantasy book that I loved this much since I read The Name of the Wind. The author also takes care to include lots of great details such as well-written side characters, language barriers and even dealing with things such as racism, which could have easily been brushed over but having them added made this frontier world seem all the more deep and real. The balance the author creates between the overall threats of a world that is on the brink of technical expansions and the everyday hardships of life was also well done.
There are also so many things left open, particularly with Aari and Devo’s characters. I left this book really wanting to know more, and with this being a clear set up book I guess that means the author nailed it. I’m hooked for the next instalment in this series.
I loved this book and would definitely recommend it.