I overcame my dislike of the cover of this book, that I would never have picked up had it not been part of the fantasy masterworks series. Although it does depict a scene in the story, thankfully it is quite out of context and doesn't really give you any idea as to what to expect within.
And what we have is one man's story of his rise to prominence within the revolutionary movement attempting to throw off the reign of the oppressive Vulkings. In addition to his travels and fighting from one end of the continent to the other (and back again), we follow his deliberations and moral dilemmas as to what is the ideal form of rulership. What is he trying to replace the current regime with and is it really any better? Is freedom paramount and to what extent must it be sacrificed for security and safety from aggressive neighbours?
In addition we follow his personal trials and tribulations. To what extent is he in charge of his own destiny or a pawn of the mysterious sorcerer who seems to foresee his future and seeks to help his rise? He seems unlucky in love as well as we follow his awkward encounters with the women he meets (and invariably falls in love with) on the way.
All in all it is an epic story set in a complex world, of a simple man attempting to come to terms with the complexities of reality. In addition the archaic, antiquated prose (stylised to excess) serves as a barrier to engaging with the story but not unmanageable once you get used to it.
A worthy entry in the Masterworks series although it won't be to everyone's taste.