The Stone Road by G.R. Matthews

The Stone Road (The Forbidden List, #1)The Stone Road by G.R. Matthews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two provinces have been at war for 30 years and now they try to settle their differences and establish peace. The story follows Huang member of the Jiin-Wei, the elite division of the military, and Zhou the diplomat From Wubei as they go through the events that will mark the end of the war. Little do they know that the war they are ending is leading to one that is coming that even the emperor knows little about.
“Sword fighting is not a dance, not in battle. You save all that showing off for the duels if you want to. In battle, when you kill, kill quickly, and be ready for the next enemy to come at you. One strike should be all it takes. It’s all you’ll get”
This is a wonderful Asian inspired fantasy that I fell in love with. The characters are well developed. The two main characters separated by war are almost always in the same place or on the way towards each other. The Huang is driven by loyalty and devotion, where Zhou is driven by revenge and anger. The magic is very original, I can’t remember the last time I found two magic systems in one book. One uses written symbols and spoken words, the other is joining with the inner spirit.
“Well, if you want to go off and die within a week or two that is up to you. But, if you want to survive, then you’ll need training. Once the Spirit is out, you can’t return it or lock it away. It is you and you are it, bound together forever. Accept it and learn from it.”
The world building is very good Matthews paints a vivid landscape that is almost as much of a threat as the enemies that are faced. From traversing the plains with little to no provisions, to traversing the mountain passes in winter. Even as far as the streets of Yaart. I felt a full vibrant world full of the bad side of extended war.
This is an impressive debut and I can’t wait to get into the rest of the series.


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