The Three Faces of Dissatisfaction by MC Burnell

The Twin Cities of Liath and Tamren. Home to a multitude of races, faiths, and industries, the Cities are a destination for immigrants seeking their fortune and relative freedom. Once an outpost of the world's greatest empire, the Cities have since flourished under the benign negligence of the Gash, a formerly nomadic warrior tribe taken root as Liath-Tamren's aristocracy. Now, though, the river that divides the Cities carries change on its currents. While their overlords scheme on unwitting, the peoples of Liath-Tamren have begun to eye one another suspiciously again.

One day, the boy Pinchlin's destitute, drunken father makes a bold promise of impending riches, a return to the comfortable life they lost so mysteriously, and so suddenly, a year ago. Instead, he vanishes. Pinchlin will be drawn quickly into a web of dueling sorcerous cults, racial unrest, and foreign intrigue that threaten to throw the Cities into chaos.

The difficulty with reviewing a book that seems geared exclusively to sequels is that it only gives the reviewer the opportunity to analyse selected aspects of the book, and consequently, limits the evaluation of both author and work. Such is the case with this work.

The book is interesting, with commendable efforts at world building, an absolute requirement in this genre. However, the veritable plethora of unique place names, religious denominations and beliefs make the work unwieldy, and frustrating at times, interrupting the well written flow of the book. This will be resolved to some extent by the addition of a good Glossary, but some degree of explanation worked tastefully into the actual text would prove helpful as well.

The various plot lines shaped up well, but their partial resolution at the end seemed hurried, and hollow, leaving the reader vaguely disappointed.

The main characters were well developed, but contained several inconsistencies. For example, the sorcerer, an ancient, powerful entity, seems wrong footed in situations a bit too often.

The dialogue flowed well enough, and the work was entertaining.

The major positive aspect was the undoubted literary skill of the author, which definitely emerged throughout the work. The flow of the dialogue, the setting of scenes, the perspectives of the characters, the description of a multitude of situations, all came across rather well. With a bit of tightening up here and there, along with some greater editorial input, the series should get better as it progresses.

I look forward to reading the next installment.

8/10 The major positive aspect was the undoubted literary skill of the author.

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