This one has been on my list for quite some time now, and with comparisons to Steven Erikson and George R.R. Martin how could I not give this one a try? Well after finishing book 1 of the Macht trilogy I can say that the comparisons ring true. This is top notch military fantasy overflowing with blood, sweat, and tears.
The Macht are a mercenary group that dwells in the mountains of the Harukush. To put it simply they are like Spartans for hire. They fight in tight formations using spear and shield and are notorious for their ferociousness in battle. The famed Macht have been hired by King Arkamenes, who intends to take the throne from his brother. Two young recruits stumble into the mad ranks of the Macht, Rictus the survivor of a civil war, and Gasca, a young lad looking for adventure. These are the two main characters of the story, but we also get to view the upper echelon of the Macht command through the eyes of one of the generals named Jason. Gasca gets assigned to the front lines of the battle, giving us the perspective of a spear wielding Macht infantryman. Rictus leads a rag tag group of skirmishers whose job it is to scout ahead and survey, and Jason gives us a glimpse into the command center of the army. The ten thousand Macht eventually set sail for war.
When the epic confrontation goes south for the Macht they are forced to retreat, but the only problem is they are a world away from home with very few supplies. The story really centers around this epic retreat, with the enemy forces hot on their tails. From the pursuing army we get a point of view from a prior Macht soldier named Vorus who is in service to the Great King. After his brother’s betrayal, his King has ordered that the very memory of the Macht army be erased. Knowing the strategies of the Macht, Vorus pursues his prior brethren on behalf of his King. Vorus’s chapters were surprisingly well done, and it was interesting to read about the inner conflict he faces when he’s tasked with hunting his brethren.
This is a manly man’s fantasy story right here ladies and gentlemen. While there are a few female perspectives littered throughout the book, at the end of the day this is a story surrounding a group of battle hardened men. What I most appreciated about this book was that Paul Kearney really captured the spirit of a military campaign. The soldiers talking shit to one another, the boredom, the groans and moans, and the whispers of mutiny that can be found in any army all paint a wonderful picture of the realities of being in a campaign.
I think fans of fantasy will have plenty to love here, as well as those interested in military tactics. Grab your spear, stretch your legs, and be ready to march! I have book 2 waiting beside me and I can’t wait to dive back into this sweaty, bloody, brutal world.