Book Review: Interregnum by S.J.A Turney

Book Reviews copy

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Synopsis: The Empire has fallen. The Empire must rise.

A historical fantasy tale of valour, honour, and determination against all odds.

 

For twenty years civil war has torn the Empire apart; the Imperial line extinguished after the mad Emperor Quintus was burned in his palace, betrayed by his greatest general and oldest friend, Kiva Caerdin.

Against a background of war, decay and violence, men who once served in the proud Imperial army now fight as hands for hire, little but fodder for greedy lords fighting over the remnants of more glorious times.

Kiva’s memories of the Empire are reignited when fighting alongside a fearsome mercenary unit, the Grey Company. Forced to face a dark and shameful past, he struggles to put his life back together. To achieve redemption, he and his men must defeat an ancient, cunning and bitter rival. Only then can the Empire be unified and become reborn…

Author: S.J.A Turney

Title: Interregnum

Publisher: Canelo

Date: 2016

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As soon as I saw Interregnum was inspired by Roman culture and history, I had to read it. One thing to bear in mind: it’s a long book! It’s the first in a series by Turney.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It made me laugh, and made me cry. It kept me on the edge of my seat as you learn pretty early on that being one of the “good” guys isn’t a guarantee that you will survive the story.

It did, however, feel quite long-winded. There were chapters that could have been shortened, or even excluded, in order to quicken the pace of the plot. Then again, this is one of the strongest books that I have read in regards to character development, so perhaps the slow pace is what enabled those changes to feel realistic? I’m unsure whether some techniques such as the slow pacing helped or hindered the story!

“Either you confront it, beat the shit out of your problems and come out the other side happy, or you surrender to it; let your emotions run their course, and it’ll come out any way it feels. Otherwise, all you’re doing is moping and sulking and that does no good for you nor nobody else.”

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the characterisations. Each person, even if they only played a minor part, had depth to them. Kiva changed the most, from a grumbling and pessimistic mercenary to a man almost single-handedly putting the Empire back together. His dedication to the cause and his men, plus his father-like attitude towards other characters made him a favourite.

Darius and Quintillian are on par with one another in regards to development. Darius ultimately goes further due to events occurring earlier in the book, but you see both of them grow into their roles. I really like Darius’ character: he shows insecurities and doubts after being thrust into a world and role he only has theoretical knowledge of. Darius felt real.

Sabian is a good guy on the wrong side. His character intrigued me the most because I couldn’t predict what he was going to do given the difficult choices ahead of him.

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I really liked the development of the relationships throughout this book. The older generation cared for the younger, while the younger ones were inspired to be the men that the veterans saw in them. The relationships are what made the book moving: certain deaths really struck a chord, as much because of how they impacted the other characters.

At times, I felt the language used felt too modern for the time. Were words such as “mate” used in those times? Perhaps that is my lack of knowledge, but it jarred the reading experience for me: I was conscious of those words compared to others.

Apart from feeling like the book was a touch too long, I remained engaged. Overall, the pacing was slow but the tension remained high throughout. By the time the final battle came around, I was gripped and had to find out how it ended. Any book that makes me react – sniggering or gasping – is a winner for me.

I’ll be interested to read more from Turney as I enjoyed his writing style, world-building and characterisations. If you enjoy historical fiction set in the Roman times, Interregnum is a strong read.

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