Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: A fantastic addition to the rising sub genre that is 'Flintlock Fantasy', Adrian Tchaikovsky writes a thrilling and fast paced novel about a woman thrown into the midst of a bloody war.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 700 Date: February 2015
Publisher: Tor
ISBN: 978147272670

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Emily Marshwic has led a priveleged life - wealthy and from a good family, she has known little discomfort. Until the war comes - a vicious, far reaching struggle that destroys whole nations and tears families apart. First the men are conscripted, and then, after many defeats - the women. Having seen her country ravaged, and hearing news of her brother's death, Emily signs up for the army - and is plunged into situations more deadly than she can ever have imagined. As the tide of war turns - could Emily be the one to put an end to the bloodshed?

Whilst this is definitely a fantasy novel, Tchaikovsky keeps it relatively light on that side of things - whilst fire mages fight in the wars and the Kings blood is a plot point, this bears more in common with Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels than it does with A Song of Ice and Fire for example. This is a pacey, relentless book -the majority of this takes place during battles - and those battles are tightly written and plotted, with exquisite attention to every bloody detail.

We see the entire book through Emily's eyes - and thankfully Emily is a very strong lead character, likeable, and passionate, with the length of the book meaning that we truly get to know her, getting beneath the skin of the character and watching her grow from a relatively innocent, but still fiercely intelligent, girl, to a battle hardened, scarred, wise and passionate woman. She is a character who the reader can't help but enjoy spending time with, and her growth feels very natural and realistic given the situation she is thrown into.

Tchaikovsky does fantastically well at blending the genres in his book - from the almost Austen-like scenes of Emily at home, through to the Cornwell-like military moments that combine grit, blood and gore well with brief moments of fantastical magic. Plotwise, Tchaikovsky easily sweeps the reader up into his world - a turbulent, violent world that nevertheless seems very familiar to those familiar with the Sharpe books and the Napoleonic wars. The world Emily inhabits is wonderfully described - making me want to learn more about Denland and Lascene - and certainly had me wishing that this wasn't a stand alone novel.

I can't deny that I was initially drawn to this book when I read that the author was from Woodhall Spa - a town in Lincolnshire a few miles from where I grew up. Emily's mention of the Wolds in the first chapter absolutely made me grin - and whilst the countryside in which Emily fights is ravaged and battle damaged, there is still something very British about the whole thing.

All in all though, I'm delighted I chanced upon this. Moving, gripping and wonderfully paced, Tchaikovsky has produced a strong stand alone book about a remarkable heroine. Given that Tchaikovsky's last series of books spanned 10 novels, I can't help but hope he decides to elaborate on this Universe, and - most importantly, its heroine.

Many thanks to the publishers for a copy of this cracking book.

For more flintlock fantasy, Promise of Blood (Powder Mage Trilogy) by Brian McClellan is a wonderful, stunning and exciting read. With mages, monsters and gods all embroiled in a plot that grips - the whole thing seems surprisingly grounded and realistic.

Buy Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky at Amazon.com.

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