Something deadly is happening in the Balian Empire.
Desperate to find a way to stave off an impending invasion, some of the most powerful people in the empire will scheme to employ the darkest magic their world has ever known. No matter who suffers because of it.
Given that the magic referred to above is necromancy and the Thousand Scars of the title are a band of murderers and rapists (plus one innocent), to say that this book leans on the grimdark side of things is a bit of an understatement. Things are dark and brutal and violent but the quality of the writing consistent keeps you turning the pages.
It is a bit of a slower start as the first few chapters move from one character to another, setting out the events and conflicts to come. But as the book progresses it settles predominantly into the POV of Tyrone Cessil, an inexperienced young man swept up in the fighting. We follow him from the chaos of his first battle to being imprisoned to eventually joining the Thousand Scars under the eye of their leader, the necromancer seeking to thwart the Empire’s plans. His thought could be viewed as naive at times but they also serve to levy all the surrounding darkness.
The battle scenes (and there are a few) are very well written, managing to tread a fine line between conveying the urgency and confusion the characters experience without actually confusing the reader. There is plenty of world-building in evidence as well but, even better, there are still hints that there is a lot more still to discover.
With all it’s good points, it feels like I should have enjoyed the book more. But, for whatever reason, something didn’t quite click with me when I read it. I’m still not sure why. But whatever that was, it’s not enough to stop me from probably giving it, or the later books in the series, another try.