Okay, "first off" I know some don't care for long reviews and sort of skip through just interested in the "bottom line" so to speak. I have a few things to say, but for you who want things boiled down to the basics...in my opinion, that's "In My Opinion" this is an excellent, even an exceptional book. I have moved it directly on to my favorites shelf. The only negative I have here is that the next volume isn't due out till July 2014. God willing and I'm still alive, healthy and solvent I plan to snap it up as soon as it's out and that my dwindling time lasts through this series.
Clear? This seems to me a great book. That paragraph should help at least two groups of people. First those who find that more often than not they agree with my taste in books, second those who find that, "more often than not" they "disagree" with my taste in books.
Now, for everybody else who'd like me to say a little about the book, here we go.
"Usually" a sure way to cause me to steer clear of a book is to call it a, "coming of age story". "Usually" these turn out to be emotionally soaked tomes of the struggles a youth has as he/she/it struggles into adulthood with it's pain and of course it's loves.
But now and then there is a different take on any "type" of book. This one is definitely a "coming of age story".
The book opens with a historian, scribe recording the story of The Hope Killer. The Hope was the heir to the Emperor's thrown and the people loved him. He was slain by the North-man they call Hope Slayer, among other names. As The Hope Slayer begins to relate his story to our historian, we get the events told in flashback.
I'm sure some will compare this to Rothfuss' King Killer Chronicle because it's told in the, "present vs. past" style of story telling. If I compared them I'd say then that this is what that series should be.
Vaelin Al Sorna's mother has been dead for a while and life with his father, the King's Battle Lord hasn't been easy. Really it's just been, distant as he doesn't really know his father. Then one day his father has him pack a very little and takes him to a strange place, a barred guarded gate.
Vaelin has been, "given to" the Sixth Order", soldiers who are defenders of, "The Faith".
We will follow Vaelin Al Sorna and his Brothers as they grow in the Order. They will receive not so gentle training and become full Brothers of the Order or fail and be turned out with some coin or die in one of the tests.
I won't even try for a synopsis as this is a long and nicely involved book and it's only flaw is that it ends. It's a long book yes, but I remained involved throughout. I took my time and savored this book and it's story.
I repeat, I don't think I can recommend this one too highly.
By the way, yes the book revolves a great deal around the "fantasy religions" of this world. None really resemble in detail Christianity, Shintoism etc. There are some aspects of these and other actual religions but none I think should offend anyone. I note this as I am a Christian and so are some of my friends here. I didn't find myself offended or subverted into some other form of belief and I don't think anyone else will be.
So, back to the topic at hand I think this book will be one I'll try to reread before the next volume comes out.
Of course now I'm having trouble finding a book to read as I liked this one so much...but there you go.
A High 5 Stars and my highest recommendation. Enjoy.