Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.
A huge thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
An alternate history of the word wherein those with magic, called Equals, overtook British government in the 17th century. In order to free the Equals to rule and not worry about more mundane things, every common person must spend 10 years of their life working hard labor as a slave.
Everything about this book can be summed up in one sentence: I truly and deeply wish there were more to it.
I mean this in two ways.
First, I absolutely enjoyed this book and wish there were more that I could read. I don’t want to wait for a sequel.
For some reason, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I’m not sure why I didn’t expect much out of it but it blew me away by how much I wanted to keep reading. I guess the description, while sounding somewhat interesting, just didn’t ring all the bells in my head to make me look forward to reading it.
Vic James takes us on a wonderful twisty-turny tale and there were many events that I did not see coming a mile away and a few characters that I just could not figure out what they were up to.
The other way that I mean this though is that there were some aspects of this book that needed some serious TLC.
The magic system for one. It is suggested at one point in the book that different types of Skill can be classified but this is never expounded upon. There doesn’t seem to be any clear line drawn between what one Equal can do and what another can’t. There is one character, Crovan, that seems to have a different type of ability but it is unclear whether he is truly special or just particularly talented in one branch of Skill.
Abi and Jenner’s relationship needed some attention as well. I get why she developed her crush on him early on but there was so much missing from their relationship after that. I never saw why he fell in love with her or why she ultimately fell in love with him. I was just told about it. I think a few scenes of them working together earlier in the story, demonstrating their chemistry, would go a long way in fleshing out their relationship a little better.
Finally, I truly wish that we could have seen some of the Debates. A politician at the start off the book makes a proposal to abolish slavery and the slavedays. The political process for proposals of these types is the have three Debates about the topic and then a final vote. All that we got to see were a few sentences of the Final Debate.
With the final reveal after the vote is called as for why the proposal was made, I get that all was not as it seemed and all and abolition was not the ultimate goal. However, the slavedays were such a central part of the book and this world that I think those Debates still deserved a little more attention.
I think with these tweaks I would have no trouble giving this book the full “10” rating. As it is, this was still a remarkable debut for Vic James and I cannot wait for the next book in this series.