Fezariu's Epiphany is one of those books that, as intrigued as I was by the set-up, I had a hard time getting into. The first few chapters left me with a serious sense of deja-vu, as if I'd read the same story before. It wasn't only the story itself that seemed familiar, but the way in which it was told. By the time I reached the series of letters (first between Jessamine and Peter, and then between Fezariu and Alycea), the sense of "Oh, please - not another of these kind of stories" was so strong that I was ready to give up.
In all likelihood, if David hadn't stopped by last month to share his thoughts on the book (check out his guest post), I likely would have stopped there. Fortunately, he'd talked enough about the larger story, and the way characters would weave in and out of it, that I still wanted to see where things would go.
Where it went, I am very pleased to say, is up.
If the first third disappointed me (and it did), the second definitely validated and renewed my interest, while the final third delighted me in the way it progressed. This is, largely, a dark and sombre tale, full of mistakes, misinterpretations, and misguided actions. There were times when I sighed and thought "I knew that was going to happen" but, at the same time, I couldn't fault the characters. They were true to themselves, and they (particularly Fezariu) surprised me.
While definitely a fantasy novel, this is a very realistic story about men and women, lovers and prostitutes, and mercenaries and bakers. It takes some novel turns, and I hints at what I suspect is a much larger story still to be told. The ending (Fezariu's 'epiphany' and beyond) was both unexpected and taken for granted, precisely what I wanted to see happen, but which I didn't really expect to have come about.
Overall, the first third of the novel could definitely use some polishing, and the middle third could benefit from a bit of elaboration, but the story ably redeems itself in the end. While I wasn't originally sure I would finish the book, I would be quite happy to read a sequel.