Sunday, August 29, 2021


Rating: 2.5/5 stars

This book starts out with a bang—I was invested from the very first page. Basically, the image on the amazing cover is what is described in the beginning of the book, so I could already put names and faces to the descriptions. Unfortunately, my interest waned as the story progressed, and I ended up not loving this book as much as I expected and hoped to. 

One day, Antiquity Grey discovers the remains of a giant mech buried in the sand, what she believes is the last of its kind. She wants to unearth it and take it home in an attempt to recover her family’s reputation, but she is thwarted by Manson Dreadth, the son of the enemy family, who tries to claim the mech for himself. What ensues is a battle between enemies who may have to make an uneasy alliance to fight a grander off-world enemy trying to destroy the mech altogether. 

When I discovered that this book features both futuristic technology AND dragons, I was so excited!! Two of my favorite things. This is a coming-of-age story with lots of adventure and big bot battles. Despite the descriptions, however, there were hardly any dragons in this book, which disappointed me. There were mentions of dragons, and they talk about going to the Dragonell Mountains a lot, but none actually made an appearance until over 70% into the story, and even then they were barely present. 

This book features my least favorite trope, which is the coming-back-to-life trope. This book is kind of different because here there’s a hologram of a dead person, but it has that person’s memories and can communicate as if they were alive. So that kind of bugged me, and the fact that this holo-dead person is who gives Antiquity the quest that she spends the book working toward. And then of course the fate of the whole world rests on whether she can accomplish this quest or not. I don’t like when books (or movies) have the protagonist in charge of saving the whole world or the whole galaxy, etc. because that’s too unrealistic to ever be believable. I like when books have smaller stakes, but that’s just a personal preference for me. 

Another issue I had was that Antiquity and her crew spend almost the whole book going on this adventure, and then in the span of a single page, they go back home. That’s just poor writing, in my opinion, and it kind of made the whole adventure feel pointless. 

The dialogue between characters felt stilted and contrived to me, like people wouldn’t really talk like that, and the characters themselves were two-dimensional and needed more depth. I attribute those shortcomings to bad writing as well. I admit that I didn’t love the overall writing style in this book, and I think that was my biggest problem. I liked the story and the setting, but I don’t think it was put together well. 

The pacing is kind of odd in this book. It feels slow-paced during each scene because the dialogue is slow, but then the book will jump between scenes quickly. Like all of a sudden the characters were in a new place and barely any time was spent getting from A to B, but then they will spend forever in that place, talking. It was kind of jarring and not super enjoyable for me.

I would have liked more explanation surrounding the technology, the government structure, the original purpose of the mechs, and the politics surrounding the Imperium and the Celestials and Erth. The setting itself was really neat, but there was not enough world-building done to really make any aspects of the story come to life for me. 

From about the 50% mark to the end, I struggled to maintain focus on the story. I just wanted to be done. This book had so many components that I love in fantasy/sci-fi stories: a dystopian setting, futuristic technology, dragons, giant mechs, a mysterious quest, a female protagonist, enemies to friends trope, and so much more. But I didn’t entirely care for how it was executed. There wasn’t enough substance here, and the writing style wasn’t my favorite. If anyone knows of a book with similar elements but with in-depth descriptions and more sophisticated writing, let me know! 

I don’t know if I’ll be continuing on with this series or not. This first book wrapped up nicely and I don’t feel super inclined to continue the story. If I can find audiobooks for future installments I might give it a go, but I can’t see myself reading more books with my eyes, based on how I struggled so much to get through the second half of the book. I do, however, think The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey would make a great tv show, and I would love to watch it if that ever happens. 

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