We Men of Ash and Shadow is a great example of gas lamp grimdark fantasy, a genre I didn’t even know I liked. I really enjoyed the melody of the writing, the profound moments shrouded in sharp, action-packed sentences. There’s a rhythm to the language that made it unique and fun to read. The bluntness of the prose very much matched the grit and grime of D’Orsee, a city that sleeps with a knife under its pillow.
I like how the author begins with common character portraits—like the rugged mercenary and the fallen aristocrat—and chips away at the layers until we get to the core. They are largely shaped by circumstances beyond their control, and their changes throughout the book never felt unnatural. Inevitably, there are some characters I dislike more than others (…oohhh… like that one character ), but they are still interesting to read.
The chapters are bite-sized, almost cruelly so, because I definitely had a “just one more chapter…” vibe going on that lost me a few hours of sleep. It isn’t a very long book, unfortunately, but it knew exactly where to end. I finished it feeling satisfied but hungry for more.
All in all, I really enjoyed We Men of Ash and Shadow and would definitely recommend it for grimdark/urban fantasy fans. Beautiful writing, rich characters, and strong worldbuilding.