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4.3 out of 5
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  • Great worldbuilding and magic system

    Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review! I have to confess, it was the cover that caught my attention and made me want to read this book. I’m really glad I did, because it was so good! It’s a great Bildungsroman, focusing on Alder Wen, or Foolish Cur, and his forming years. He is our first-person narrator, and I love that he is such a flawed character. He’s smart and ambitious, with a great thirst for knowledge (in particular about magic), but he’s also quite proud and cold (mostly due to his education). I could easily have seen him turning into a villain, to be honest. The worldbuilding is so rich, and although there’s a lot of information, you do get it all naturally throughout the story, rarely as info-dumps. The magic system was so interesting and complex, it was very fascinating. You do have to pay attention pretty much all the time, though, and I'm not sure I fully understood it all anyway lol. I do wish we would have a map of the Empire, and not just because I love maps, but it was hard to remember which region was where, or even that Alder’s native Nayen was an island. It’s not a fast-paced book relying on the plot, so I wouldn’t recommend it as a quick & easy read, but it’s such a great representation of conquered vs conqueror culture, and how someone belonging to both would cope. I really enjoyed the first part of his journey and where it led him. I would have given it 5 stars, but there was just something a little too heavy about the writing style. I guess it suited Alder’s education and personality, but it was somehow too serious and severe. I was also not sure about where the book ended. There’s a climax in part 3 (around 75%) and that felt like a natural point to end the first book. At the same time, I get why part 4 was in this book, it’s a crucial step in the character’s evolution. Overall, really enjoyed it and I’ll definitely read the next book!

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