Synopsis: Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his deformity, and well aware that he is a mere pawn in a political game. Ruled by an insane King and the venomous Majordomo, it is a world where corruption and decay are deeply rooted – but to a degree Lucien never dreams possible when he first discovers the plight of the ‘insane’ women kept in the haunting Sanatoria.
I was interested just from the title of this book but the concept drew me as well.
Maybe thematic spoilers.
This is the least mediocre book I’ve read in what feels like a long time.
Firstly, ignore the synopsis. There’s nothing wrong with it, but just read the book anyway. Secondly, it gets off to a bit of a rocky start, in my mind. There’s a lot of Italian terms that flow thick and fast in the first few pages and you’re basically just dumped right in the middle of everything, with just about every single character mentioned or appearing. I found it a little hard to follow, the combination of the unfamiliar terms and the unfamiliar names not doing so well to ease the reader in. This is minor in terms of the grand scheme of things though, a small hurdle to get over.
I’m not a fan of when people refer to other books and/or authors in quotes. Either the novel stands on its own merits; it reeks of plagiarism throughout; or, worst case, the similarities are superficial, the reader is disappointed, the author looks like a hack who tried to draw in an uninterested demographic, and the reviewer is colluding or ignorant. Thankfully this is the first situation, where the only downside is the reviewer making himself look silly. I won’t deny that there are similarities but why on earth should it matter.
The book itself is wonderful. We have two timelines going at once, but they’re used to give more information in an organic way that builds the story, rather than provide shocking revelations as some authors are wont to do. The hero is flawed and the characters are well-rounded. Tragedy and dark deeds occur but not explicitly and with no wallowing. The 10,000 hour rule is adhered to concerning swordsmanship. The narrator is reliable and the story well-written, a combination I didn’t know I was missing. Unreliable narrators can be fun but they can be overused.
The ending was a little odd. I kept waiting for something else to happen, but no, apparently that was the end of the book. Luckily there are two more, which I look forward to immensely.
Yes. Can’t really say more than that. Though, I’d like to note that I gave this a 5-star rating not because it’s perfect but because I enjoyed it so much.