“A man has only three reasons for being anywhere: to right a wrong, to earn a coin, or because he is lost.”
Cassius is not lost…
The mage Cassius has just arrived on the island of Scipio. Five miles of slum on the edge of fifty miles of jungle, Scipio is a lawless haven for criminals, pirates, and exiles. The city is split in two, each half ruled by a corrupt feudal lord. Both of them answer to a mysterious general who lives deep in the jungle with his army, but they still constantly battle for power. If a man knows how to turn their discord to his advantage, he might also turn a profit…
But trained on the Isle of Twelve, Cassius is no ordinary spellcaster, and his goal is not simply money. This a treacherous island where the native gods are restless, and anything can happen…
Worldbuilding: I’ll begin by saying I didn’t know what grimdark was as a genre, and I wanted to experience it. Well, I did. The historical fantasy world of Scipio is full of awesome paranormal elements, magic fights galore (and regular ones, for that matter), shady characters, disturbing behavior, struggles between outcasts of a sort or another – yep, lots of wow.
Characters: Cassius was very tough to get a grip on, for me. I’m a terribly logical kind of person, and I get characters based on some sense of their goal/motivation and feels schematics, if you will. I didn’t really know what was going on with Cassius. There was a lot about him that I found interesting, the agile and resourceful mind, the cunning, the planning he put into his actions. But at the same time reading about him felt like a descent into madness and senseless violence, and it also freaked me out – I won’t hide the fact.
Other characters were interesting though always dubious in some way. I enjoyed the perspective they put things into.
Plot: The story is a bloody adventure, if I have to describe it in short. It’s full of action, magic and otherwise, the intrigue keeps building until it crashes into you. It had a good pace, and lots of action and fighting. It was at times frustrating for me, too much violence, too little logic, in a way.
Writing: Third person, past tense narrative, Cassius’ POV. Interesting style, descriptive but dynamic. I didn’t like the flashbacks myself – I never do. But they were interesting and had really kickass titles, hehe.
Curb Appeal: Cool cover, hooking blurb – impulsive buy material for my fantasy moods.
The Burning Isle was a very interesting journey. I can’t say I loved it, but it kept me hooked and opened the gates to a new genre that I’m still curious about. If you’re into grimdark I think it will be a fun read, plus it has really cool historical fantasy elements to boot. I say give it a try!