The Axe and the Throne by M.D. Ireman


Journeyed there and back again
I thought this was a really solid fantasy book. (no spoilers ahead) This appears to be the first book of an epic trilogy (will it be more?). There are many characters and I liked how the chapters started with a character's name AND sketch of them. The sketches are cartoonish and allow for the reader to do what they want. I think they helped me keep track of some of them because there are many different viewpoints in the book.

The characters are all varied and interesting with many grey and very few of them pure evil or purely good. You see the conflict between various people and the book shows the viewpoints of rival clans as well as cities as there are different stories. Some stories are small potatoes while others have vision of great power and deal with the control of kingdoms.

The stories told in the book are good but my main beef with the first book is that it really seems to set up the rest of the series and didn't have a major plot point - at least for the first half+ of the 532 page book. This first book is centered completely around the characters and we don't understand where the connections between them will be or why initially. It's almost like setting out on a road trip in the back seat but not knowing where you are going or how long will it take to get there. Most of my favourite books introduce a mystery early on or set up an epic battle you can't wait to get to - something to push you forward. This book largely builds up the world and characters and doesn't rush anything. You start to see an epic nature build but it's not until the end of book and really is setting up the series without a strong conclusion itself. That's the main reason I drop this from 5 to 4 stars. But stay with the story and those last 100+ pages build the intensity and will make you eager for book two.

There is actually very little in terms of fantasy elements (other races, magic, etc). So this is nowhere close to a Tolkien type of book. Far more ASOIF with the multiple characters, political plot lines (some of them) and the grimdark nature (although not as dark as Martin's stuff).

A very good start to the series and I'll definitely be reading the second book.
I'd give this an 8/10

Couldn't help but envision Varys from ASOIF when reading the Cassen chapters.
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Journeyed there and back again
I will try and explain. Very minor spoilers but I will put them in spoilers just in case.

There are roughly three groups of people. A Northern clan of people who resemble Vikings. They are violent and raid more civilized clans to the south called Dogmen. The northernerns call them Dogmen since they raise and use dogs. These are small clans with no political power but there are some interesting characters and dynamics in play. Eventually some will link with the other main part of the story which are the true kingdoms and nobility even further south. Some of the best characters in the book are the Northmen.

The northern part of the powerful kingdoms is Rivervale which had conquered the Adeltians twenty years ago and now run their capital as well. This is where the former Rivervale King and his family fun the place. There are a lot of dynamics within family members and nobility that makes this a bit similar to King's Landings from ASOIF.

In some ways this is a fantasy soap opera with how people interact and their story lines. I don't know how to say much more without revealing too much. Epic things don't start happening until late in the book.