Note: The review refers to the edition included in Free-Wrench Collection: Volume 1.
Somewhat to my surprise, Ichor Well is more like a proper book in terms of size, albeit at the low end of that range. The final chapter again delivers in terms of the action, while until then there’s space for more details and dialogues, a slower pace and more of a focus on the characters. In terms of this latter aspect, more nuances are added to the fug folk and a few are fleshed out a little more as individuals, though I’d say enough with the names, especially last names, that are variations of white or white objects already! On the other hand, not much is being done for the Wind Breaker’s crew, the only visible effort being to continue to develop Lil but even that failing to produce worthwhile results.
Another notable problem is that it often feels like the author is thinking with his fingers. Effort is being made, but the “guts” are showing, many of the thought processes going into worldbuilding and potential outcomes of the action seeming rather dumped on the page, often by putting them in the mouths of characters. The clear impression is that, by attempting something more ambitious, the limits of the author’s skill become far more obvious in every way.
Admittedly, Lucius is such a caricature of a villain that it’s hard to take anything seriously with him in the picture, and the fact that those points previously made about some of the things wrong in our world and the calls to fight against them are also lost in the details would also seem to indicate a story that’s not meant to be taken too seriously, at least not anymore. But, in that case, the pace is too slow and the real action too little, too late, leaving Ichor Well uncomfortably straddling between the simple adventure that Skykeep was and the much more ambitious work that at other times it seems to strive to be. I’d still call it the better book, but its flaws are harder to dismiss.