alas, only 3 stars...
AMAZON UK £9.99
AMAZON US $ not available
AMAZON CA $17.99
It is very hard to judge some aspects of this book as the mobi file supplied by the publisher was extremely poor quality which did not make it easy to read the text: indents all over the place and littered with typos. ARC editions (Advanced Reader/Review Copy) do often have uncorrected typos as they are a pre-final proof read version and are for review only, not for sale but they should still be produced to a quality standard where layout and presentation is concerned – not resemble a low-grade first draft.
In theory this would mean instant rejection by Discovering Diamonds as we insist on good quality presentation, but we are placing a review to highlight that traditional mainstream publishing is not always up to scratch, especially where technology is concerned. Indie writers are all too often ridiculed for this sort of sloppy output. We sincerely hope that these production errors are not in the printed book version or final e-book edition.
What one can discern of the writing itself is as good as you would expect (typos are assumed to be the fault of poor editing by the publisher, although the annoying point of view flipping, the head-hopping that drains scenes of their power is all the author's...where was the editor’s input?) and Iggulden does present another gritty story.
King Darius is dead and he had to choose his successor as no throne can be secure if there is no heir, worse still if there are two, which does not bode well for Cyrus, the second son. Taking his responsibilities seriously, Artaxerxes does exactly as he is advised by his father - he is going to execute his younger brother and thus remove a threat before it can materialise. But Cyrus is no mere figurehead and he is takes his leadership of the Persian armies as seriously as his brother takes being king. It cannot end well for both.
I wasn't as gripped as I should have been as there was a lot going on for little progress, long passages of conversation between characters that seemed only to make the same point over and over, and then the passages of plot-furthering action were rushed and not fully explored. There is a lot of anti-climax and the pivotal parts of the story seem again to be rushed.
It is clear what interests Iggulden from this novel and if a reader's interest is equal, they will find much to satisfy, but I do feel the text is not disciplined enough in its execution to make the most of every scene, passing over some scenes that should carry more weight, and are even referred back to by Iggulden, but are at the time included almost as an afterthought.
This is readable and the research is remarkable, but I expected more from this author, his editor and his publisher. Alas, only 3 stars because of the typos in this edition.
© Nicky Galliers
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