A Vanishing Glow (The Mystech Arcanum, Vol. I & II) by Alexis Radcliff

Political intrigue, civil unrest, unlikely allies…

Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk
Length: 346 pages

Synopsis: There are so many different minor story lines that I could not do justice by trying to write my own synopsis. So, here is the official blurb:

“It is an Age of Revolution, an Age of Industrialism. Constructs, living men who are as much brass and steel as they are flesh, man the factories and wage the wars of a ruling elite who gorge themselves on the fruits of the common man’s labor. Mystech, a brilliant fusion of magic and machine, gives rise to a new class of privileged inventors and merchants even as the country festers with wounds from decades of internal strife.

Only one man holds the promise of a brighter future: Nole Ryon, the crown prince. When his childhood friend Jason Tern answers his call for aid, the two of them set out to fight for the change their country needs in order to survive, even as shadowy foes frustrate their efforts. But soon, Jason and Nole’s idealistic mission of hope becomes a furious manhunt for a political murderer as the nation balances on the precipice of a country-wide civil war. Can they cut through the threads of intrigue to discover their true enemy before everything is lost?

Sweeping from the ancient cities at the heart of the nation to the dusty edges of the war-torn frontier, A Vanishing Glow tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and assassins, friends and lovers, who come together in a time of epic struggle. Here a brave officer risks everything to win back his estranged father’s respect; a brilliant young engineer attempts to atone for her sins; a war-weary commander tries to pick up the pieces of the life he lost; and a man touched by the gods struggles to prepare a nation for the coming of an ancient evil which only he can see. In the dying light of a once-prosperous society, amid twisting plots, suffering and betrayal, lost love and shattered dreams, all must fight for what they hold dear. Who will taste the fruits of victory and who will lie bloodied on the ground in the light of a vanishing glow?”

Cover Art: The cover is interesting in that the man looks like he’s not sure what to think of his mechanical hand. It’s like he can’t believe it’s his hand. I can just picture him flexing the mechanical fingers and thinking, this really IS my hand! After I’ve read the book, I’ll have a better idea if that is the case. Okay, so the man on the cover is Jason Tern. He doesn’t start off with a brass arm, but does end up with one.

The background is the town of Adaron, the capital of the Federation of Ghavarim. With it being in the background and done in light, neutral colors, it’s harder to see the details. It would be nice if it had been just a little bit darker because it looks like it shows the disparity between the classes with all the factories and what appear to be residences of the wealthy.

I must say, though, it’s nice to see a cover where the character is how you picture him based on what you read in the book- the blue uniform, the mechanical left arm, dark hair…

My Thoughts: Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to keep all story lines straight. The main story revolves around Jason and the people he comes in contact with. The other secondary story revolves around Nilya and who she interacts with. I kept hoping through the book that Jason and Nilya would meet, but they don’t. That would have been a nice way to tie their stories together. Instead, one of the bigger characters at the beginning of Nilya’s story makes an appearance near the end of Jason’s story.

There also isn’t any confusion with names. You won’t find characters referred to by their titles in one chapter and then by their names in the next. If the character is called by their title, the author does a good job of making sure you know who it is, and you don’t have to sit there thinking, is Lord So-and-so Eddie, Pinky, Yoda, or Han?

Notes: I have not read much steampunk, so I don’t know if the books I’ve read in the past have been typical of the genre or not. I say this because this book doesn’t have as much of the steampunk flavor as the others. This book is more about politics and civil unrest and less about all the gadgetry associated with steampunk.

Rating: 3.5 stars

disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

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