The epistemological vagueries of this novel was what annoyed me the most, followed closely by the lack of information concerning the relationships and actual descriptions of/between the three species participating in this narrative. Or in plainer English, there’s a few troublesome holes in the world-building that seem pretty important to the story. This is mostly a novel about characters and action; I appreciate this. However, when much of said action is directly related to the systems of faith, values, knowledge, and inter-species relationships in the world of the story, I find it bothersome when there is not enough information for the reasoning of some of the villains and heroes for their actions to be clear.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, on to the fun stuff. This novel really is a good work of quasi-urban-ish fantasy, and a mystery concerning a book containing the secrets of the universe which is naturally key to the fate of the world. Most of the action revolves around a core trio, Rowena the scrappy sort-of orphan, the Alchemist/Bear a mysterious older guy with skills and a reputation, and Anselm Meteron/Ann the former rogue gone businessman who is still mostly rogueish. All three get to be pretty closely linked over the course of the story which involves tracking down the book in question which was being sent to the Alchemist via Rowena when she was robbed by an aigamuxa (an ogre-like monster whose species is sadly unexplained and undefined-sorry, complaining done now). Some of the connections were already in place before the timeline of the story, but that gets gradually uncovered by the end. There’s also two side characters who have some significance, Rare and Phillip Chalmers, but their actual part in the story is that of side-kick in one way or another. Rare has some connections to all members of the Main Trio, and Dr. Chalmers spends most of the novel kidnapped by aigamuxa and forced to translate/interpret the Book.
The novel is actually pretty well paced for an action story since some of what seem like side-plots end up integrated in the main quest to retrieve the book which apparently has the details of the 9 individuals God will base His judgment of all living creatures upon. Here’s where the problem with epistemology comes in. Given that the ideas in this world about the divine, and how the human et al. can understand and control their fates in the world, and what that might mean, are fairly important for the quest for the book, the fact that the church of Reason and the history of how the world got to that as the main faith system from faiths like Christianity and Judaism (or at least their facsimiles in this world, which is also fairly vague) is left very undeveloped is a cause for annoyance. Naturally, even after the two main bad guys are identified and dealt with for the time being or vanquished, there are hints that the conspiracy goes all the way into the heights and depths of the established church/government hierarchies. Sorry, I thought I was done ranting. Apparently not.
I honestly enjoyed this story and the characters. 3.5 stars. But there are some things I hope get fixed in the sequel The Fall due in about six months.