Adrian Tchaikovsky, Guns of the Dawn (2015)

First a blog-related question – how do you like the new layout? I am, I have to admit, on a fence, but it is refreshing ๐Ÿ™‚


And now, this:


Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky

Title: Guns of the Dawn

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 658

A book bought by me immediately after it was published, read and reviewed by Ola, and now I also finally got around to reading it. Ola’s original post is in Polish, as was often the case in our early days, so I’ll recapitulate, and maybe one day she will translate the whole thing.

Ola liked it, with 9/10 I’ll say she loved it. Sense and Sensibility in Vietnam was her title, and what followed were comparisons to Platoon,ย Full Metal Jacketย andย Apocalypse Now. Andย Shadows of the Apt, obviously ๐Ÿ˜‰ Conclusion is, that the book is as well written as Tchaikovskyโ€™s other novels, and keeps the reader interested up to the very last page.

In general, I agree, but I’m not as enthusiastic as Ola had been.

I agree, we do have a likeable heroine, Emily Marshwick, a copy of Austen’s protagonists, a daughter of impoverished nobility trying to stay afloat in a dilapidated family manor in a society that reached early industrial age – while preserving magic and strong monarchy. She’s pragmatic, self-reliant, smart, prideful and quite a bit prejudiced. It was light, not as fresh as Austen’s prose 200 years ago, but very entertaining.

There is also a war going on, and it quickly goes from the background to the foreground. In the distant land, Emily’s native monarchy fight against revolutionaries. First, the leftist scum beats the regular army, then – volunteers. Conscription of most of the country’s men does not help, and then they take the women. Emily refuses to send a servant, and joins the military herself.

She survives the boot-camp and gets a taste of jungle warfare (in a musket era), it’s camaraderie and its brutality, and pointlessness. Her cause proves to be less stellar than she thought, and the enemy more human. Not a new approach to war novels, but executed as ably as I’m expecting from Czajkowski. I neede some epic fantasy, and I got it, mostly having fun while reading.

What was there that wasn’t as fun? Well, the great reveal was absolutely unsurprising, the heroine quite annoying in her stubborn naivety that was so obviously going to be overcome, I felt I was treated as… not that smart a reader. Not as sophisticated as Shadows of the Apt, and not as entertaining as The Monstrous Regiment, Pratchett masterpieces that comes to mind for obvious reason.


Another vaguely similar book I liked better – McClellan’s Powder Mage Trilogy (that’s a review we should translate), did the French Revolution in a fantasy world theme better, if you want a less satirical approach.

Spoiler-y section:

I rooted for the Denlanders since the very beginning, and was more interested in what was going on on their side of the front. But, when we learned a bit about that, they proved to be a bit too good. McClellan’s clearly on the side of the progress as well, but does not hide its uglier side. The Austen-ish parts were fun, but a bit too long for my taste.

Altogether, it’s a book I definitely recommend, and what I see as its faults lay at least partially in Tchaikovskyโ€™s conscious stylistic choice.

So… 7.5/10?

33 thoughts on “Adrian Tchaikovsky, Guns of the Dawn (2015)

  1. I looked at this first on the WP Reader app and then at the online version on my phone but I won’t know what the layout is like, I’m afraid, until I crank up my laptop so, sorry, but I’m sure it’s alright!

    I like the notion of novels that cross or mash up genres but they don’t always gel, do they? I shall keep an eye out for this however.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, a long time passed since I wrote that particular review ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’d say 7,5/10 would be my current rating as well.

    It’s a well-meant book, and fun, but definitely not Czajkowski’s best effort, as the great writing and compelling characters are marred by too much idealistic sanctimony – the best effort honor goes to Shadows of the Apt ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. piotrek

      More or less the same… it’s the original Polish way of spelling it, we decided to use it here, there are not that many internationally recognized genre writers of Polish origin ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Echoes of the Fall was ultimately disappointing. I decided not to read Children of Ruin as I felt Children of Time worked so well as stand-alone and CoR had much more critical reviews ๐Ÿ˜‰

      This one was fun but a bit too sanctimonious for my current tastes; I like a bit of moral ambiguity, which was a staple of Shadows of the Apt, not to mention Cook or Asher ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 2 people

    1. LOL, but do you like it? ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s more noticeable on computer screen, admittedly; on a small screen it just looks very similar, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t noticed ๐Ÿ˜„

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m one of those people who don’t notice things unless they’re bad. So my opinions tend to be “don’t notice” or “ughh, why did they choose that?”. That isn’t usually encouraging for the other person.

        Once I looked, my impression was a lot of grey space. Which fits you and your “moral ambiguity” to a tee ๐Ÿ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

        1. piotrek

          I’m the same. It’s either ok and I don’t notice, or sth annoys me, and usually it takes me some time to get used to any new layout…if it depended on me, there would be no progress on webpage design ๐Ÿ˜‰

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thankfully, I don’t spend a lot of time on peoples’ blog. I see their post in my feed, then go to their page to read/like/comment and that is it.

            I chose the template for my blog because it was simple and easy and wasn’t “moody”, hence I wouldn’t be tempted to change it at the drop of a hat. If something works, leave it alone ๐Ÿ˜€

            Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s interesting that you mention McClellan’s Powder Mage because that’s the series I thought about just looking at the cover for this one – and before reading your review!
    And I like the new layout: clean, streamlined and very easy on the eyes ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds like Shadows of the Apt is the way to go with this author then. Still sounds pretty solid. I mean… if 5-years-ago-Ola gave it such a high rating, something tells me I’m bound to enjoy this a lot, even if 5 years later I’d drop the rating a little bit hahaha Great recap and review, sir. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. piotrek


      Yeah, Shadows of the Apt is definitely his best, but everything else I’ve read is at least good ๐Ÿ™‚ And it’s nice to sometimes be more sceptical than Ola, usually I’m the enthusiastic one ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I think I have this one laying around somewhere as an ARC I requested and then never read (I know, shame on me). But your review has me pretty sold! Austen characters in a war?! I don’t know why this works for me but it does. lol. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Favorite books in five words – Re-enchantment Of The World

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