Quality Rating: 1.5/5, Sensitivity Rating: 1/5
A peasant girl named Laney Herder is discovered to have magical powers and is made into a knight as a result. Amidst her sudden rise in class, she is sent on a mission to stop a military threat that if not stopped could start another war. Over the course of this mission, she falls in love and also learns that her already versatile magic has even more to it than she had previously realized.
The story takes place thousands of years after the apocalypse, yet somehow recovering from said apocalypse resulted in a society that resembles medieval Europe aside from some technological anachronisms. This seems to be an attempt to make the setting seem slightly fresh while still mostly sticking to genre conventions. The magic system is fairly interesting, being one where magic converts to electricity (and therefore can fuel technology) regardless of which element it controls. However, it is very poorly handled and is sometimes used in ways that were not previously established in order to address conflicts. At times, this creates events that border on being deus ex machinas. Also, since the setting is mostly medieval, there aren’t a whole lot of scenarios where magic’s ability to interact with technology become relevant. Ultimately, the most interesting aspects of the setting are squandered. Furthermore, the story very basic and unoriginal. It’s a simple rags to royalty story for the first half and a simplistic quest for the second half. It’s also overly slow in pace.
The protagonist is a lesbian and her romance with another woman is a significant part of the story. However, the story is filled with the stereotypical flaws associated with stories about women written by men. Like, it would probably be easier to name the aspects of her portrayal as a woman that aren’t among those flaws. The portrayal of a sapphic relationship is shallow and fetishistic rather than empowering. Attempts to empower the protagonist (in the rare instances that they occur) fall flat. In addition to being lesbophobic and sexist in general, the story also exclusively uses an ethnic slur to refer to a minority group in the setting.
This book is the first in a series, but it doesn’t leave me wanting to read more at all. Furthermore, it doesn’t really establish much that sequels would be good for exploring. In almost all respects, it was a bad story and is one to miss.