When words fail, bring out the guns, swords, and death spells. Marina is the daughter of Tsar Alexander the Cruel, the most powerful warlock. She's also a princess of the Court of White Rose. The only problem is that she's mundane—she has no magic.
On her sixteenth birthday Marina fled from her father's tsardom to the revolutionist side of Muscovy, and five years later she's doing all right, working as a seamstress in the United Workers' Factory. Despite the political police, the never-ending witch hunt, and her best friend living as an orange cat, she's happy. She gets along with her cottage mates and is even seeing a guy... until the city blows up, she's implied in the sabotage, her guy turns out to be an enemy, her friends are murdered, and an alchemist maniac hunts her down for a blood vendetta. With the Red Army and the Alchemist Federation on her heels, Marina runs back to the Court of White Rose, but when death follows her home she must uncover a prophecy, reconcile with the warlock, and stop an oncoming war. It's a tall order for a seamstress.
The first book in the Sun War Trilogy, this intensely dark tale of magic and mayhem is full of grey characters that blur the line between good and evil.
Content warning for strong language, graphic violence, and intimate situations.
Warlock of Muscovy is the first book in the Sun War Trilogy, a Slavic inspired historical fantasy, written by Briend Feathers, a SPFBO9 entry. A book with an amazing setting, which is partly gaslamp, drinking from the Russian Revolution times, and mixing it too with Slavic folklore, creating a unique world where our story will be developed.
Marina fled from the court when she was sixteen, and now, six years later, she's doing quite well on the revolutionist side of Muscovy, working as a seamstress in a factory; despite how oppressive the atmosphere is, with the political police, the repression and the paranoia, she's happy. That's until the city blows, and she gets accused by the power, being called as implied in the sabotage, her friends murdered.
And now it is even discovered her origin: she's the daughter of Tsar Alexander the Cruel, the most powerful warlock, and leader of the tsardom, the enemy of the revolutionist side; she will be forced to return to The Court of the White Rose, but behind her, many dangers are coming. If she wants to keep safe all the people she appreciates, she will have to work on stopping the war, reconciling with his father and uncover an ancient prophecy. All of this while being a mundane, a non-magical person.
Let's start talking of the most outstanding aspect of this book: how unique the worldbuilding feels. Muscovy is clearly inspired by the tsarist Russia and the revolutionary atmosphere that followed 1917s revolution; as a result, we see a revolutionary side where the repression and witch hunt are the everyday bread, focusing strongly on industrial production, squeezing the last blood drop out of workers. On the tsardom, Slavic folklore gets mixed with tradition; the court is built around the fae world. That duality, tradition/magic vs progress is the major conflict that fuels the war between tsardom and revolutionaries.
On the other hand, I feel this book could have been benefited by a greater length, as some parts of it feel rushed, being the pace extremely fast. Usually, that isn't a problem, but in this particular case, readers might prefer to know more about Marina's motivations, as some of her acts feel random, at all. While some characters are more developed than others, I cannot stop thinking that I would have love to know more for example of Alexander. Said that, there's plenty of action and impactful moments, Feathers doing greatly at keeping ourselves glued to the page.
Warlock of Muscovy is a great introduction to the world of Sun War Trilogy, a book perfect for those that are not afraid of some darkness in their historical inspired fantasy. If you are looking for a unique world, definitely pick this book.
Brien Feathers is a fantasy author living in the land of permanent frost, horses, and Mongols. She likes reading, writing (of course), riding (horses and husbands), drinking dark beer, and checking things off a to-do list.
Although she claims to love everyone equally, she really loves her youngest son the most. He has autism superpowers that allow him to speak all types of rare languages including drumbeats, elevator dings, and police sirens.
Miss Feathers loves grey days, orange cats, and all creatures human or otherwise. And she hopes you will love her world (fantasy) and people (characters) as well.