The March North

by Graydon Saunders

Rating: ★★★★

Supremely detailed, highly-embedded high-concept military fantasy. Lashed with competent characters, subtle hints, and blood-curdling ancient horrors which look like your grandmother. The plot was certainly enjoyable, the narrative drives hard, and the dry gallows humour was carried off well.

One thing I'm not sure about is the style. I'm not sure if it's the slightly pointed omission of all gendered pronouns, heavy use of semi-colons or the frustratingly varied mashup of a conversational and academic sentence structures in the narration, but something meant I was rereading every few sentences just to parse the meaning out of them. On the one hand, Saunders' use of obscure vocabulary (croggled, tailings, integument, neeves) suggests they're intentionally putting the reader to work. On the other hand, there are several straightforward errors and inconsistencies (reversal of the from/to call order being one that particularly threw me), which suggest that perhaps some of the writing is just unskilled. If I were more sure this was art rather than accident then I would be rating this book higher.