1. I listened to this as an audiobook and the narration was absolutely fantastic. This is definitely a book I would recommend to someone starting out with audiobooks.
2. The translator for this book did a bang up job. I (obviously) couldn't translate from Russian, so I have no idea how well or specifically Russian translates to English, but the world was complete, the word usage was never "off" or simple. I never felt like I was reading a translated book.
3. I don't know why they specifically referred to Hobb and Moorcock in the book description, I would not have (not that I don't love Hobb or Moorcock?)
And onto the review story-time.
This story is largely character driven. Not to say there isn't a crap-ton of action, it's just not the central point of the story. There are no great quests to get things done to win the girl. This is character. How a character changes and grows.
Egert is a bit of an ass. Like a stereotypic hero, he's big and beautiful and perfect. Brave and an excellent swordsman. Great lover in bed, and leader of men, blah blah blah. He's young and dumb, and in a duel kills a man. And he's cursed by a character only known as the Wanderer. He is cursed to become and know himself as the coward he really is. He leaves home, in search of a way to remove the curse and ends up at a university with the fiancee of the man he kills.
There are a lot of things going on. A religious sect that has lost power seeks to regain it, characters abound, life goes on. There may be a plague here and there, but in the end, it's about Egert and how he lives, and his search and desire to become the man he once was, if that's even possible.
The pacing was a little weird. Most of it was OK. There was the action at the beginning to set up the character and story of Egert. Then there was the distinct lack of action as Egert was no longer a man of
action. And I was fine with all of it, because it made sense, but the end got a little rushed (and I'm not sure why).
I found the whole story charming, and deep. Serious and still fun. It's original and different, which I adore.
The only thing that bothered me (other than the random pacing issues at the end) was that the Dean specifically says he doesn't understand why the Wanderer deigned to curse Egert - apparently, the Wanderer is not someone you want to toy with, but at the same time doesn't just show up to randomly curse people. His reasons, or any reason, why he chose Egert to curse is never explained, and at best
I can only guess that he cursed Egert so Egert would go to the university and take his place in the actions that occurred with the Cult of Lash and the whole plague and trial thing? So he can see the future, too? I don't know, that reason just seems like a stretch and I felt it was incomplete, although a minor quibble. This quibbly issue could probably be answered if the rest of the tetralogy were in English and I could read them.
I wish more of the Dyachenkos' works were available in English. I want to read more of their books so bad it hurts (especially knowing this novel is 2nd in a series of 4).