(At the time of this review, the first 6 chapters have been released)
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...Industrial Revolutionary, that is.
'The Cyneweard' is the kind of fantasy where characters swear all the time, but do it by a multi-syllabic fictional deity ("Humbolt-damnit' is as wordy as the best of them). It's the kind of fantasy where far more pieces of the world are mentioned in passing than we actually have time to talk about. It's the kind of fantasy that's probably going to be a lot longer than six chapters.
At the same time, it's a relatively gritty read--and I wonder if it's not shaping up to be a noir-style mystery. The world outside is full of fantastic elements, but the action we're presented with is carried out with good old knives and pistols.
What kind of fantastic elements? Well, there's magic of some kind, although we don't see any on screen. There's an early-industrial level of technology, so people are transitioning from swords to firearms. And there's some cat people in there, because cat people are always a good addition to anything. Don't think about it too hard, it's not crucial.
What you need to know about is 'The Machine', a great big factory in the center of town. You see, this world has just hit its industrial revolution. This seems to be the crux of the story. Exactly what's going to go down isn't totally clear, because the movement of intrigue is a bit vague, and the characters who know anything aren't letting on.
If you like gritty fantasy, I think you'll be quite satisfied. The dialogue is energetic, and the worldbuilding imaginative. Things move at a good clip. The narrator is constantly getting people into conflict. We have a small cast of characters, and so far they've put up a noble fight to resist the homogenizing forces of the dark, noir atmosphere. We can look forward to seeing personalities developed.
The primary downside for me is that some of the 'grit' seems gratuitous. Obviously there's a lot of ugliness that comes with industrialization, and the 'Hard Times-esque' depictions of lower-class hardship could become interesting story elements. But the titular character, the Cyneweard, seems a little over-zealous in making sure that we know he's a bad person. So far he's killed four unsuspecting people, two of them just so he could ask who someone's boss is. Not a crime boss, mind you, just an every factory overseer, something that must be nearly public information.
But if you can overlook that, there's entertainment and a promise of unfolding conflict.