I’ve been reviewing arcs and judging for The Self Published Fantasy Blog Off recently which has taken up most of my time, so it was nice to just be able to choose a book that I owned that I just really wanted to read. I’ll keep this review short and casual as there are many fine examples on Goodreads already. This book had everything that I look for in a fantasy story. It includes an intriguing and powerful lead character who we follow from youth for at least a decade. The world is well-crafted and unique with a good amount of history. I fell into this world and the different mythologies and didn’t want to leave. It starts off in an educational environment a la The Name of The Wind or The Wizard of Earthsea but instead of being taught magic these members of The Sixth Order are taught the way of the warrior. They take numerous tests to prepare them for war and life as a weapon for the empire. It took me a little while to get into the side and supporting characters but they gel really well with the protagonist Vaelin after a few chapters. The cast list is quite sizable but this tale doesn’t include ‘bit-part’ players. Everyone seems crafted finely and fleshed out. There are twists, betrayals, thrilling moments, times when they author seemingly leads us down one narrative avenue to blindside us, backtrack and take us in completely unexpected directions. There was so much here for me to love. It’s one of the finest fantasy debuts I’ve ever read. I’ve heard mixed views about the rest of this series but I think I’ll read the Tower Lord and then decide whether or not to complete the trilogy. As a standalone though, this is brilliant.