Finished it last night. I thought it was good but not as mind-breakingly awesome as the reddit-recommender
was saying. I had a few questions though, spoiler-ed out below.(view spoiler)[
1) What was the point of the framing story? It was my impression that writers often used the "telling the story" style of framing to give the reader more information on the character's mindset or more outside information whereas Ryan seems to have used it in the complete opposite manner, using it to show that he's hiding information from the outside. Also, I found it a bit strange that the entire framing story seemed pretty pointless. The main event that the framing story is based around (killing of the Hope) seems to have been just a very minor event. I was also confused about the Hope going into battle anyway since he was represented as an intelligent character that had very little training in the sword arts. Based on that, what was the point of his army basically directly leading him to the best fighter of the opposing army and letting him get killed?* And the final climax of the framing story was pretty anti-climactic and seems to have only served the point of showing that Vaelin is still not "free" of his fate. I feel like this point could have been achieved in a much simpler way and that the framing story almost detracted from the narration.
2) Why was the sculptors shop set on fire? Was it merely because Barkus/One Who Waits realized that the stone was going to show that his face? Was that what was being shown in the stone anyway?
3) Why didn't the Emperor choose to attack the city that Vaelin was in first, as was theorized. Though there is some merit to doing exactly the opposite of what the opposition expects, the implied rage of the entire country would have meant that going after the "Hope Killer" was the only realy choice.
4) In the end of the book, there is a woman who writes a letter in the north welcoming her brother home and then crying. Is she the princess? Why is she crying? Is this supposed to imply that she loves Vaelin for being the one person who does not lie to her?
*I actually really can't get over the Hope. If he meants so much, why did he go out in the first place. Not only was he an obvious target (wearing white) but his soliders practically directed him to the most dangerous place to be. He could not even sit his horse correctly, what was he doing there? I understand the honor in being part of combat mentality but seriously? And the shock that seems to fall over the army seems pretty odd given these facts. Especially the one soldier who commits suicide.
Overall, I thought the writing was fluid and the characterizations were great. It was a good debut novel and as Ryan's career progresses, I have a good feeling about his growth as a writer. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>