Some authors take in medias res very seriously.
When this fantasy novel begins, the main characters have already been arrested for capital crimes, some of them have already dated and broken up, and key members of their rebel group have already betrayed each other or died. It makes for a dramatic opening (the first sentence is “Four people were supposed to die at sunrise”), but Soria (Iron Cast, 2016) has to spend the rest of the book filling in the background. Some facts are repeated several times, and one chapter is nothing but plot exposition, which makes it so dense it’s nearly unreadable. The story begins to feel like it ought to be the second book in a series, the sequel to a novel that was never written, but it’s the rare sequel that’s genuinely satisfying. The action is fast-paced, when it isn’t being interrupted with flashbacks and exposition. Many of the surprise plot twists are actually surprising. The premise, based around “infallible prophecies,” raises interesting questions about free will. (Aging Taylor Dayne fans may find themselves humming “You Can’t Fight Fate” after they start reading.) The characters are complex. (They are, however, mostly white, though a few have skin that’s ambiguously described as “bronze” or “light tawny brown,” and some are bisexual or asexual.)
This is a thrilling adventure story. It would be twice as thrilling if it were split in two. (Fantasy. 13-18)