See this review and more at Whitley ReadsMy Reaction: Three stars for the actual quality, plus one star for my own personal bias.This was a very difficult book to get through. Sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad reasons. The book doesn’t shy away from anything, not mass graves or rape or brutal beatings or anything else. (Except, to my great frustration, menstruation. Apparently that’s still off limits.) It’s more than willing to present you with a very gritty war-torn land that is heart-rending at times.At times. It wasn’t heart-rending all the time because the book was far too dense for me to connect to anything going on. So much was thrown at me, and I didn’t get enough space or quiet moments to sit and process it or care about it. “Here’s a gritty thing. Now, without any transition, here’s another gritty thing.” I didn’t feel like I cared for any of the characters, because they were too busy running halfway across a continent in the space of a sentence. The style of this will certainly please some people. It’s a very plot-driven book, and the plot of it is quite good. The writing is a bit stilted and high-handed, but it produces some very beautiful quotes and moments. The characters are distant and disconnected from the readers, but they’re fascinating characters nonetheless. It’s a book that I can see being very divisive, because every point that makes one person happy is sure to annoying someone else.Highlights:• Have you ever sat with a group of people who are all friends, but you’re new? And they tell stories to each other, but leave out information because they assume that everyone in the group already knows it? So you sit there, mostly following along, but still with the ever present knowledge that you’re missing out on something? Reading this book is a lot like that. Important plot points are brought up, then talked about as if we have background knowledge of them. I was able to follow along in retrospect, because you can put the pieces together after the fact, but in the middle of reading it was very frustrating. • There was very little attempt to ever set the scene in this book. When the party arrived in a new place, we didn’t get to see it. When fights started, they just started out of nothing. One crucial scene started with the phrase “a blazing hell,” and then all of a sudden there were soldiers there to fight. Where were they fighting? In a street or field or city or castle? Who knows! And was the fire literal or metaphorical? Well, you’ll have to wait several pages to find out that it was literal, and then several pages more to find out just what, exactly, was on fire.• There are quite a few plot holes in this book. The most glaring being when certain people get a fatal illness…and then the plot goes on as if they got cured somewhere in there. I don’t know, maybe the book mentioned it in half a sentence and I just read too fast. That happens a lot, too. Major plot points and movements will be tucked in, and if you blink too fast you’ll miss them.• A lot of character motivations got the same treatment as the last of scene-setting. People will just all of a sudden decide that so-and-so is out for blood, even though so-and-so is a friend, or that there’s a fight about to throw down, despite no evidence of such.• When the book does slow down enough for character moments, they’re quite beautiful.• I was fascinated by all the characters. Granted, it was rather in the way one is fascinated by a historical figure, since they were inaccessible most of the time, but I still really enjoyed learning about their stories.• The plot was right up my alley. It was just downright refreshing to get a sweeping, epic book that delivered on its promise to be all about saving the country.