14 December, 2017

REVIEW: GUNS OF THE DAWN by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Title: Guns of the Dawn
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Series:  -
Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk
Publisher:  Tor UK/Panmacmillan
Release: 2015 February 12th
Source: AudioBook
Pages:  658

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Guns of the Dawn is a pacey, gripping fantasy of war and magic, from Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author, Adrian Tchaikovsky.

The first casualty of war is truth . . .

First, Denland's revolutionaries assassinated their king, launching a wave of bloodshed after generations of peace. Next they clashed with Lascanne, their royalist neighbour, pitching war-machines against warlocks in a fiercely fought conflict.

Genteel Emily Marshwic watched as the hostilities stole her family's young men. But then came the call for yet more Lascanne soldiers in a ravaged kingdom with none left to give. Emily must join the ranks of conscripted women and march toward the front lines.

With barely enough training to hold a musket, Emily braves the savage reality of warfare. But she begins to doubt her country's cause, and those doubts become critical. For her choices will determine her own future and that of two nations locked in battle."

EXPECTATIONS: I can't recall how this book got to me, and so, as a result, I can't really say what I expected from it. I admired the idea of "pistols at dawn" for a while now, so seeing the cover, and then hearing the very first chapter about warlocks in the never receding mist has worked me up for, I guess, horror. Good kind, but still horror. It wasn't that, though. It was much, much better.

THE WORLD: It is not fully and clearly stated of what this world is, other than those two nations we see. Denland and Lascanne were once allies. But today they're mortal enemies, and they've been for a while enough that no lascanner can recall the days a denlander was but a neighbor proper. Lascanne king is pouring all he has into this war of two nations. All his warlocks, made by the Fire of Royal Blood, for magic can only be passed through whatever ritual their king commits by placing a burning hand upon his chosen ones, and giving them the power to create fire, in turn, at their fingertips. He's putting all his soldiers and men out there. And when those are not enough, he demands every third woman in the household to yield one to become a soldier. After all, the war is nearly over, this is but a chance for them to earn a medal and run back home, victorious, truly! But if that is indeed the case, then why this effort against Denland, Denland whose king was killed before this war even broke out? They've no magicians in their ranks, even their weapons have no magic upon them. Surely there's something more to this war than what the king claims. But to think that is to commit treason.

CHARACTERS: Emily Marshwic, eldest sister among them, could've done what every other genteel family did: sent out their servant, their maid out onto the battlefield to die. But her heart was always a bit too kind, and a bit too brave to do so. So once the time came for them to go, she allowed her hair cut, she donned a soldiers armor, and she marched out, rifle at hand, and the pistol her father used to suicide in her belt, prepared to defend her country, by killing or dying. Given a choice, she asked to be sent to the worst of the fronts, where her brother has died, where her brother in law was maimed, and where the last of the warlocks created by the king served too. In a swamp full of tangles, roots, giant bugs who thought of them all as food, and where all was covered by mist at all times, rendering most shooters a little useless, and warlocks - extremely superior to a mere mortal man, or woman, for there were many more sent to serve here. These people Emily soon learned to call friends, and these people helped her understand what war is all about. But it was the enemy who showed her the truth. The truth, for instance, of their revered king, so very charming, so very delightful, smiling and tugging with that smile at you, dulling your senses, making you... believe. 

ROMANCE: A tiny love triangle sparked, for Emily left a man she despised, and yet learned to respect at home. A man she hated for ruining her family, causing the end of her father. A man who never lied to her, and who took care of her family, bending all he could bend to provide them with that extra bite when the nation was starving. But here she stood, prepared to die any given day, beside a warlock of high class, high skill, and proper morals to him, and who seemed to be very taken by her.

GOOD: There was not a page boring here. Something's happening at all times. At times it's unique, such as warlocks, magic, royal bloodline containing the spark to anoint and give power. Other times it's merely the things we don't think about: whose land are the wars fought on? This very jungle they're in contained natives, indigenous people with their own language, their own beliefs, and their own wish for them to get out of their woods as soon as possible. But my very favorite was the fact that I couldn't tell what will happen until the final 15 minutes in the audiobook. How was Emily to solve all this, really? How did she find the solution in her? It's brilliant, I love what a wonderful soldier this woman has made, and how it took an unheard thing: drafting of women, to actually change the tide of war and then end it.

BAD: Nothing, really.

OVERALL: This was one mighty great book, one of the rare stand-alone gems that are finished with an ideal finality. It's a book I will love and cherish, from the cover, to the stories, to the characters. I'm very impressed by it. Never there been a book of almost seven hundred pages that kept me reading with such curiosity and want to hear what's next.

What do you think about GUNS OF THE DAWN?


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