I had quite a few issues with this book. It was good and enjoyable but it was quite hard to get into and a little confusing and infuriating at times. I don't know how much of this was because it took me like 6 months to read (I only really read it occasionally on my breaks at work and I would have like 10 minutes max to do so) or whether it's the book itself.
So basically, the story follows a young man/boy called Cale, who's an orphan in a this post-apocalypticy (I assume anyway, it's never really made clear) world in a place called the Sanctuary, which is run by militant asshole priests called Redeemers who really abuse these boys in their care. Cale is pretty badass himself, for reasons which are finally revealed about halfway through the book - basically, he had a bit of brain trauma or something when he was young and now he can kinda foresee what his opponent is going to do in battle and so is pretty damn awesome in a fight . One day, he and friends Kleist and Vague Henri see something they shouldn't in one of the forbidden areas of the Sanctuary and decide they have to runaway and escape, which they do. And from there the main plot begins as they encounter this new world and try to survive and make the most of it.
Cale was an alright protagonist. He's a bit of an ass at times and I found it kinda hard to really relate to him, but at the same time I could kinda sympathise with him and I liked how his character grew and developed over the course of the novel. Kleist and Vague Henri were nice secondary heroes, fairly typical, in that one is smart but more quiet and follower-y while the other is a bit of a smartass-y type guy. Hoffman introduces a wide variety of characters and it does kinda become hard to keep track of all of them an their motives, although that may be because of how long it took me to read.
From the writing style and stuff it felt like Hoffman was trying to be a bit like Stephen King or Justin Cronin with the covering of multiple perspectives and stuff but it just kinda fell flat.
The world itself was interesting but a little confusing as well, and I would have appreciated a few ore details about it and stuff.
Overall, it was a good book, and I liked it, but I felt that Hoffman didn't really fully explain it all and the reasons people did various things and the ending was just a bit rubbish and silly. Basically, I'm not desperate to start reading the sequel.