** spoiler alert ** An impressive debut in the vein of Eaters of the Dead (13th Warrior) with more concise prose and the threat of terror throughout. 4.5 *.
It is entertaining to read the terror of figuring out what people are facing and fighting, the horror of friends being highly unfriendly and a nod at people not figuring out efficient methods and blaming the gods, committing sacrifices and the like. I'm not a massive horror fan, but having reviewed Michael Whitehead's Roman trilogy a few months back there's obviously a market to tap into and this novel more than adequately axes it's way in and makes any darkened wood creepy... thanks...
Possibly I'm biased with having an archaeological background, but the ritual, settings among dolmens and superstitions echoed more strongly than the above trilogy with clear imagery and menace, yet without the martial prowess and Roman engineering.
The last third meanders and personally I think it could have been tighter in weaving together the three main POV, as the initial one doesn't return until late on and I was waiting a while to see what the scholarly input will be. It is also a novel that firmly sets up the series and the conclusion feels slightly tame in comparison of the earlier tension and menace but keeps hold of the plot threads without letting them run.
I'm curious to see where this goes and wouldn’t mind seeing more of the warrior women in future books as with the vein of Centurion they are some of the best characters. Now, will the dog survive?
A fun and pacy read and rattled through over a couple of days which is fast for me.
Edit for IFA 2021 re-listen:- I particularly enjoyed the audiobook as that's how I digest most of my fantasy these days. To me it elevated the story especially in pacing towards the end and was particularly well narrated. Understatement - stonkingly so on a repeat listen.