Jesslyn asked:

Is this another 'darker people of the desert' against the lighter skinned good guys (or just main character guys) book?

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Chris C Its a fantasy novel. Not race relations . Why even bring it up?
Sarah The book falls flat on it's face when it comes to race, honestly. He made the desert people have grey skin, which was probably an attempt to avoid the issue but their culture was coded as non-white so... it did nothing? Also it meant that literally all of the characters were either white or some made up fantasy color.

I was hoping that the sequel would be better, but nope. Absolutely everyone was still white. No indication that anyone can be anything but white.

There's definitely things I like about the series, but it's treatment of race is not one of them.
Alasdair King It's fairly obviously based on Revolutionary France, and Napoleon fighting in Egypt. The two alternative answers to your question, I think are (1) yes and (2) worse, the Arabs are basically just an exotic background to the adventures of the French.

(I should add that as a white European man this didn't bother me at all, and I thought it was great fun, but that's my privilege...)
Eleanor With Cats Coolcurry wrote: "There's definitely things I like about the series, but it's treatment of race is not one of them."

Only read book one so far, but sadly, I'd have to say I agree. The book doesn't portray the Khandarai (grey-skinned local peoples) as bad per se, although there is definitely a colonial viewpoint that they're uncivilized/have a primitive religion that's prevalent among the Vordanai (white-looking overseas colonials). But except for having them attack the army the book mostly ignores the Khandarai and is about a set of Vordanai characters in the military who are affected by political intrigue within the government that ends up sucking them in and changing their lives. There's one Khandarai character who joins them as a refugee and is an interesting person, but she's not a viewpoint character and one of the things she does is end up helping a white character get magical powers. We do definitely see a more complex and positive side of the Khandarai through her. And also through Jaffa and General Khtoba, who get viewpoint cameos at the starts of Part Two and Part Three. It's better than it could have been - but it's not great.

The novel does portray women pretty well, for what it's worth. I can think of at least four offhand, they're all different, and they're not all on the same side. And it's well-written.

I haven't read any of the sequels.
Cee Jay "Boo hoo, I can't read fantasy books that don't fit my own personal racial expectations"

Take your low key racism elsewhere Jesslyn.
Mlorism I don't understand fuss about race. It's fantasy! Have good story or not, is well written or bad. Don't try to put politics, race in everything. It's important in your private life? Fine, but don't force everyone to do it in your way...
Frances The setup you've got is a (pink-skinned, paler-skinned, European-ish) Vordanai garrison in a (grey-skinned, sometimes-darker-skinned, Arabian-ish) Khandarai country when there's a religious revolution. The garrison escapes the capital city, and then gets put under the command of a rather unconventional colonel. They then deal with both the conflict with the Khandarai, and with the machinations from the court back home which are resulting in them needing to

The two protagonists that are the attached-viewpoint characters for most (not all) of the novel are both Vordanai. I felt that the Khandarai were portrayed as more-or-less dangerous, but (barring a couple of the religious revolutionary group) not evil or barbaric.

I really really liked the book, but a big chunk of that was probably the very refreshing take on female characters important enough to have names. (They existed. And none of them were sex workers. For a setting with a supposed-to-be-male-only army dealing with a revolution by a patriarchal religious sect, it's kinda surprising.)
Donald Trail I'm about halfway through the novel and while it is earth inspired, it isn't really set in the world we know. It has a strong feeling of Napoleon in Egypt, but the Vordanai are not really comparable to revolutionary France in any way. They have a bit more in common with the English of that time period. The Khandarai are inspired by Egyptians, with a little bit of perhaps Inca. Overall, it doesn't really feel like race plays much of a role in the book so far. Both groups have some wonderful people and nasty characters. Very well written. If you are looking for some grand or sweeping commentary on race relations... this isn't it.

The most interesting thing I note is that of the 2 main characters one of them is like a lesbian Mulan. She actually comes across as a more inspired tactician than the male main character who is essentially more about following orders as they are provided and genuinely seems uncomfortable thinking for himself. This contrast makes the book kind of shine in my opinion. Again this is not a boring book. I really like it so far.
Mateus Krüger Noronha Sure! why do you even bother asking such a question?
Only white males can peacefully read a fantasy novel without risking being offended in some way. Good thing i'm one. Sad you're not.
Bzm3r Hi, just read this book, and yes. That's basically what it is all about.
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