I really wanted to like this book. The characters are interesting and compelling and the tale being told should of been the same. Unfortunately for me it wasn't. The first hint that I might have a problem was when someone had a drink of Vodka. I like my fantasy to immerse me in the the world. Having someone drink Vodka yanks me right out of it. To make matters worse, Beaulieu chose to build his world based around Russian/Cossack Culture and Language. I'm not sure if this was just lazy worldbuilding or if he has a huge interest in that area. That in itself isn't bad if there is a reason for it, e.g. The world is actually earth or the people have travelled from earth. No such reason is given or even hinted at.
What really pushed me over the edge, was his use of Nyet and Da instead of yes and no. This annoyed me to the point where I was tempted to throw my Kindle against the wall! I might have been able to get over that if I'd been able to picture the world in my head. At no point was I able to get a clear picture of what the world, Islands, Towns and countryside actually looked like.
Worldbuilding aside, I also had problems with Beaulieu's writing style. It lacked any narrative tension(suspense). The book just went along at the same pace the whole way through. Big events would just happen and be gone with no real build up or climax. The prose was also a bit Archaic for me. Who the heck uses jaunt and apropos???
There is plenty of potential here for a great book, it just didn't work for me.