Let it be known first that 99 Days is the 2nd book in the Red Proxy series by Keith Ward and I haven’t read the first book yet. The author submitted this as his SPFBO entry and my experience will be based on reading it without any knowledge that was maybe shed upon in the first book.
The book started out really strong, as the blurb said, Ketram, the main character, had his village burned down and his wife killed, plus his newborn triples were kidnapped and now he’s on a mission to rescue them. Sadly, the best part of the plot is also the one that was mentioned in the blurb. The journey towards saving his triplets lacked intensity, scarce actions, and somehow, felt like filler side quests. All the side characters he met during his journey appeared only for a while, and it’s practically impossible to care about them. The thing I dislike the most however has to be at the end of the book; the climax and conclusion was done in less than 3% of the story, not to mention the ending itself is heavily filled with Deus Ex Machina moments. There’s one very important moment in the ending, where there’s no clear explanation on how it happened other than “wherever”, this is an exact quote from the book, the reason was “wherever” and “the world has changed”. Now, as I mentioned before, maybe there’s an explanation somewhere in the first book about this situation but there’s absolutely no explanation given here.
I also find the characters hard to care for because they don't have enough development, except for Danak, the Span Seer. Most characters also lacked the necessary physical description that throughout my time of reading this, I had no idea on how most of the characters looked like, unless you look at the front cover of the book which features the main character.
Luckily, despite all this, there are still good things to find in the book, especially the concept of Span Seer, Proxy and Transfer, which were really well done. To explain it briefly, Span Seer is a seer who can measure how much time a person will have before dying of old age, right from the moment they were born (unless they’rekilled). Once the life span has been measured, they can be candidates for Proxy. A Proxy is someone who’s chosen to sacrifice his life span to be transferred to somebody else, prolonging that person’s life. This means, if the person wish so, they can be immortal and live forever as long that they keep on taking other Proxys to prolong their own life, with repercussions of course. I truly enjoyed reading this concept, plus the prose is simple and good enough for the story, with only one or two typos I found which is a rarity in most indie books.
Overall, 99 Days is a book with a strong concept in its world-building but sadly, the rest of the book pales in comparison to the concept itself. Again, I’ll remind you that this is based on my experience reading this straight from the 2nd book of the series, there's a chance that if I've read the first book before this, I would've enjoyed this one more.