My observant readers, which is of course all of you, will note the release date for this book is June 3rd, and today is the 4th. As much as I did enjoy this book, I didn’t read it all in one day. Amazon shipped me the book early. Ordinarily I would count this as a good thing, but the problem is they clearly shipped a copy that wasn’t meant for resale. There were mistakes on the back cover, type setting errors in the text itself, and the whole book was missing an author’s page. This was meant as a review copy for Amazon and wasn’t fully edited. I won’t be counting those details in my final rating because they obviously won’t be there in the product you would receive. Still neat getting a book before the release date though.
Whenever I try out a new author, especially in the fantasy genre, it seems there are already several thousand pages of books I’d need to read to get caught up. Sometimes that’s nice, knowing if I like the book there are a bunch more. More often though, I feel this odd aversion to a well established series because the train has already left the station so it seems awkward and/or too much work to get on board late(Dr. Who I’m looking at you). Quespin is the debut novel for author J C Anderson, and it felt nice getting in on the ground floor of a new series.
The book follows our title character as he grows up in a dwarven city sealed off under a mountain. The great war of years ago forced the mages of the city to seal the whole mountain trapping whoever was in the city at the time. The politics that led to and are a result of that decision are a source of most of the conflict in the book.
The limited environment to explore leads to a surprising number of rich characters. The story is all told from Quespin’s perspective, but many times it feels as if other characters are really the focus. That blends nicely with the fact that Quespin certainly feels that he is out of his element for much of the book. Either way it is good to see side characters get more than a trope or two for a personality and motivation.
The pacing of the book is extremely quick which both helps and hinders the experience. On one hand you won’t get bored while reading it, but there are moments that plot points are introduced far too rapidly. There were conversations I lost track of who exactly was saying what and there were pages I had to go back and reread because I wasn’t certain how a specific conclusion was reached.
The hints at a larger world are nicely fit in with the classic method of quotes from other books from the universe starting off each chapter. This is supposed to be the first in a trilogy so I’ll be interested to see if the author will continue to balance character growth and world building as well as was accomplished in this one or if it will fall victim to the genre trap of becoming too enamored with the world at the expense of the plot.
In the interest of full disclosure, I do know the author and consider them a good friend, so take that for what you will with my review.
★★★★☆ – If you like mixing your magic with your politics this is a fledgling series to check out.. A reminder of my rating system