This little book blew me away. It’s a fast read and the book description paints an accurate picture.
I’ll start by saying that I think one of the hardest parts of reading fully different world hard sci-fi or epic fantasy is that it can feel overwhelming to get saturated by so many new names for things. Magically, this author avoided putting me in the uncomfortable position of feeling like I need to keep notes about the names. It’s not to say there weren’t lots of new words for previously unheard of creatures (and I probably couldn’t tell them to you now, after having read them) but I wasn’t confused WHILE reading, which already makes the book head and shoulders above a lot of SFF. It could be because he kept the rest of the dialogue fairly simple and straight-forward, not saturating it with too many new terms, so the reader had a very clear anchor about what was happening.
Moving on to the actual story, I was so very impressed by the monsters that this author created. The action begins almost immediately, and it brings the team of soldiers on patrol up against challenge after challenge dealing with these different kinds of ‘spawn.’ However, the outside of the box thinking this author has completely impressed me, because the monsters are so varied that they aren’t even all physical entities in a traditional sense. It’s basically as if the entire area they patrol through is one giant enemy, and it manifests itself through weather and flora and, yes, also creatures.
Now if it was only the creatures that were fearsome and unique, that would be enough – but these patrols are the only thing standing in the way to protect their society from these monsters… which means they have to kill them. Fortunately for the reader, the ways they must defeat the various spawn are just as inventive as the monsters themselves.
The book ends on a cliffhanger but, given that the story is a prequel, I can live with that. I absolutely want to know if the member of the patrol from the last scene survives into the main storyline, and I’m putting the next book on my reading list. So, so, so good. Easiest five stars I’ve given in a while.