The Year of Our War (2004)

The Emperor and his circle of immortals guard the Fourlands against the deadly insect hordes, but when suddenly more and more insects begin to appear, it seems the Fourlands are lost. And if that wouldn’t be bad enough, conflict between the immortals themselves breaks out at the worst moment, weakening them even more, at a time when they should show unity against the common enemy.

TYoOW was an uneven read. The main character was extremely annoying when he became his spineless self. The pacing had some problems too. There’s no calm minute, as if the author feared the reader could become bored any moment and threw plot developments, new ideas and background history at the reader without ever slowing down, which assured that the reader never became bored, but which also made for a wearisome reading experience. A more mature writer would have known when to slow down or when to give the reader some time to catch his breath.

Another problem is that while the book is full of neat and intriguing ideas when it comes to the world-building, it doesn’t always cohere into a single vision. Most of the time it remained a package of neat ideas with no unifying feature. This was more a problem in the first half of the book, later when I had adapted to the quirks of the novel it worked much better and toward the ending I enjoyed the book much more than at first. Despite the problems I had with TYoOW, I think it’s still a good book that tries to do something new in fantasy, and while I’m not sure it succeeded completely, I did enjoy it.