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The March North


4.24  ·  Rating details ·  97 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Egalitarian heroic fantasy. Presumptive female agency, battle-sheep, and bad, bad odds.
ebook, 340 pages
Published March 6th 2014 by Tall Woods Books
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May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Graydon Saunders is one of those ancient Usenet RASFW refugees, like me. Some of that crowd wandered off to other parts of the Net and continued their commenting ways. A few wound up as SF writers (Jo Walton, Ryk Spoor, etc). Graydon is one of the former who has abruptly become one of the latter.

(If you're reading this post *on* Usenet, joke's on everyone who left, right?)

(If you're Graydon, sorry about that "abruptly". Seems that way to the rest of us, mostly.)

This is a strange book, and not ju
David Tate
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
If David Weber's endless infodumps make you want to scream, this might be the military fantasy for you.

Here's an author who doesn't coddle the reader, telling him exactly what to think and feel and expect. On page one, you're dropped into weirdness squared -- something extra bizarre is happening to people that you would already consider bizarre enough. Explanations happen, but in bits and snippets. A picture builds. You discover that words that you thought you understood (Line, Standard, weeds,
Nick Fagerlund
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is basically a military SF story but set in an unusually gonzo fantasy world. The protagonist, a brigade captain out in the boondocks, gets some cryptic orders and a transfer of some unusual units, the combined message of which being "there might be an invasion happening but we're not sure; here's 100% of the power we could spare without panicking the whole country and/or wrecking our ability to survive the OTHER ongoing crisis. Hopefully it's overkill, glhf." Spoiler alert, there is defini ...more
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Fredrik by: Leif Kjønnøy
Okay. This was not the easiest book to get a grip on, and it's probably not going to be the easiest book to describe, but I'm gonna give it a shot! Cause it's worth reading.

First, imagine that you're reading Master & Commander, except without any of the introduction to workings and terminology of a Napoleonic war era British navy sailing ship provided to the viewpoint character dr Stephen Maturin. Instead, it would be like reading the first person account of the operation by captain Jack Aub
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-books, fantasy, fiction
I feel like I'd better review this book after the author was nice enough to walk me through how to buy it from him. (Google Play is occasionally extremely unintuitive.)

This one actually took me several tries to get into -- I can imagine people bouncing off it -- but when I actually sat down and tried to read it today I read it straight through. It's military fantasy with no gendered pronouns (no, really), an interesting look at systems of government, obvious affection for the smallest details (y
May 26, 2018 rated it liked it
This novel was really polarizing.

On one hand, it contains magic magic. I love that. Sorcerers in this universe are forces of nature by themselves, immortality is basically a given, and they could and have in the past destroyed armies, landscapes and nations by themselves.

On top of that exposition is kept to a minimum, which turns many aspects of this setting into intriguing pieces that I enjoy putting together.

That being said, there are too many things that remained confusing, that I missed, or
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book, then read the two sequels, then reread the two sequels, then reread the trilogy - so, retrospectively, five stars.

The main attraction is the world-building: Take our world, add magic that lets a small number of people be Evil Overlords - and let a quarter-million years pass. The resulting world is *not* a medievaloid world with a thin patina of plot device. It's a world that's had a long time to evolve, and societies that have had a long time to learn how to survive a toxic mi
May 26, 2014 marked it as gave-up
Maybe it didn't help that when I started this I was reading in fits and starts on a research trip; but then I put it aside in favour of comfort reading during travel and never went back to it. Possibly just not the right book at the right time in the right circumstances rather than anything wrong with it.
I really wish I could give this book a higher rating. The writer did some interesting things with magic, world building, and gender, but the lack of explanation, and the all around obscurity for the sake of being obscure makes it hard to be more enthusiastic.

The magic system is unique, and far more intriguing than the typical Tolkien-esque knock-offs. It feels like the writer did some deep thinking about what the world would really be like if magic was abundant, and could be used by nearly every
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is extremely dense, and it throws you right in without any introduction. I had to read and re-read sections before I understood, and am still realizing things on my third re-read. Not light fluffy reading at all.
Mar 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Pretty good, different enough from the usual fantasy tropes to be interesting, but mostly in a mechanical sense. Less so in terms of plot or characters. Still an enjoyable afternoon though.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Nice, interesting... but ... the terrible writing ... is it English?
Vasil Kolev
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nice read. The only issue I had with it is the language, it's pretty hard to follow sometimes.
Marna Nightingale
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The first book of the Commonweal series and I still love it.

Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of The Black Company, CJ Cherryh, military fantasy
I found this book incredibly dense, in the exact same way CJ Cerryh's "Rasulka" was dense. Saunders goes for the same narrative style she used there (and that I remember from her run in Thieves' World - the characters don't bother explaining what they consider mundane details, and given the fantastical nature of the world Saunders has built, the reader is often confused as to what exactly is going on. Careful reading slowly draws a picture, though, and it's worth the effort. There is a lot of dr ...more
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, scribd
Wow, how to describe this book?? Mostly it's a book about the following: battles; sorcery; magic; changeable and probably intelligent landscapes; demons; battles (again) and the aftermath of battles; sorcerers, but nothing you would see in Harry Potter, oh no; and a giant battle sheep named Eustace.

The first time I started reading, I was confused, and stopped. I could tell there was a story there I wanted to read. But the author drops you right into the story with almost no explanation or expos
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: signal, indie
There's a story about Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon. It's said that, if you want him to like your presentation, you should write it up without including any background information -- just assume that he already knows everything about your chosen field. And then, after you've done the writeup, you should delete every third paragraph. He'll stay engaged by filling in the gaps in your story, and that way your presentation won't be boring for him.

This book reminded me of that story. The world of thi
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
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 conversational and acad
Apr 30, 2015 rated it liked it
The odd writing style might be the biggest highlight, that's why I bought this based on the Kobo sample: written as if English were still an inflective language; it reminded me of Paul Kingsnorth's The Wake without the artificial spellings.

On to the world: The Commonweal is well-realized as is every little aspect of military life down to materiel and transport and coordination of infantry with spellcraft, which is cool. Also a society in a secondary world fantasy that's egalitarian, uses the Fre
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a challenging book to read. The style is unusual and hard to comprehend at times. I found myself re-reading a passage on many occasions, trying to figure out what the author meant or was trying to convey. Most concepts aren't explained right away, but rather little details are mentioned in passing, and you have to gradually build an understanding - and in the mean time, just shrug and hope it all makes sense at some point.


And I enjoyed every minute of it :)

I'm not usually one to enjo
Walter Underwood
May 04, 2016 rated it liked it
This book would be a lot better if the author did not insist on explaining things a few chapters after they show up in the story. It was odd the first couple of times, then got really annoying, enough to keep jerking my out of the flow of the story.

Graydon: Stop playing games. The reader is not a cat toy to be batted around for your amusement.

Docked a star for that stuff. Other than that, this is a great book.
Titus G
Oct 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: author-s, fantasy
Interesting structure with much exposition information at the end or revealed slowly during the book with the assumption that the reader was already familiar with the magical laws governing this world. Dragged a bit in the middle but this was compensated for by the ending.
Jul 15, 2014 rated it liked it
The choice of perspective robs the incident some of its sprakle, but it makes for an alluring read.
Dec 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
I only managed 183 pages before I gave up. I didn't hate this book - I just couldn't work up any interest whatsoever in it. I suppose it is meant to be amusing, but it just bored me.
cultureulterior -
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is just the kind of book I'm looking for. People who've compared it to the Black Company are right- although I might even call it better.
Helen Thompson
rated it it was amazing
Jul 04, 2014
rated it liked it
Mar 14, 2016
rated it it was ok
Jan 01, 2016
rated it really liked it
Dec 11, 2018
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Aug 19, 2017
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Other books in the series

Commonweal (4 books)
  • A Succession of Bad Days
  • Safely You Deliver (Commonweal #3)
  • Under One Banner (Commonweal, #4)
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