Neryn continues her quest to strengthen her Calling powers so that she can call the Good Folk when it’s time to wage war against evil King Keldec. InNeryn continues her quest to strengthen her Calling powers so that she can call the Good Folk when it’s time to wage war against evil King Keldec. In the first book, Neryn reached Shadowfell, the rebel’s stronghold, with the help of the enigmatic double-agent Flint. Now Flint has returned to play his role as King Keldec’s most trusted Enforcer, and Neryn must set out to find the Four Guardians. Neryn has to find both the Hag of the Isles and the sleeping Lord of the North before winter sets in.
Juliet Marillier’s world continues to be a harsh one. The entire country distrusts each other, and King Keldec continually takes revenge on nobles and common folk alike for perceived slights and betrayals. It’s brutal and dark and gloomy. This is the fantasy equivalent of Hitler’s Europe or Stalin’s Russia. I fully believe that in the third book, King Keldec will fall and good will prevail, but in the meantime Marillier is not afraid to kill off her characters. I think Neryn and Flint are safe and will get their happily ever after – but maybe not.
Even though this is a quest full of danger, the book still feels like it’s slow-paced. Neryn and her companion/protector Tali leave Shadowfell and have to get to the isles. They get to the isles and Neryn learns from the Hag. Then they start traveling North. Then Tali gets captured by King Keldec’s people. Then they have to find the Lord of the North. Even during the fight scenes, it felt slow-paced. There’s some fantasy books that are paced at a sprint and have a lot of action. This is a more “quiet” fantasy book, like Stardust or Across the Great Barrier. I like it, but I don’t love it – dark and quiet are not my favorite combination.
I don’t know what Marillier needs to make this book more exciting – but at least infuse it with more of a sense of urgency. Setting a timeline for getting trained by all the Guardians isn’t enough – I have no doubt that Neryn will meet that deadline. And every time she’s in a tough spot, one of the Good Folk show up and provide a deus ex machina (Need a boat? Come to this location at this time and you’ll have one! Need to get North without Keldec’s people seeing you? We can travel through stone!). ...more
I remember reading the Farseer trilogy (in which world this novella fits) as a kid and hating it. I was far too young for such a dark, depressing seriI remember reading the Farseer trilogy (in which world this novella fits) as a kid and hating it. I was far too young for such a dark, depressing series – I disliked it for all the reasons I disliked A Game of Thrones, which would mean I would probably like Hobb now. I decided it would be a good idea to read this, since it was so short, to see if I could take Hobb off my will-not-read list.
Hobb is still dark – no one gets to be happy, everybody dies THE END. The writing is good, the characters are solid and the worldbuilding is expertly done, which all points to "yes" on the "give Hobb another chance" scale.
Since I remember very little of the Farseer trilogy, except that it included murder and betrayal and NOBODY GETS HAPPY ENDINGS, I basically treated this as a stand-alone novella. And I didn't feel like I was missing anything in terms of background, so this could be an entrance into Hobb's fantasy world for those who are completely unfamiliar with it. ...more
Despite remaining an irredeemable prick, Quentin Coldwater has grown on me. He’s that co-worker/fellow student/cousin/some other not-close but repetitDespite remaining an irredeemable prick, Quentin Coldwater has grown on me. He’s that co-worker/fellow student/cousin/some other not-close but repetitive contact person who you hate for all the right reasons at the beginning, but who after a while you view with affectionate exasperation. Oh, that’s just Quentin being Quentin! you think. He may be a douche, but he’s OUR douche! Don’t worry, you’ll get used to him after a while.
It’s not that Quentin himself has gotten any better, but knowing what to expect (and not expecting any improvement) I tolerate his stupidity instead of getting infuriated at it. I think that there may be something wrong with me that I find such a self-important dick and pathetic excuse for a human being oddly...endearing (in a poorly-behaved puppy kind of way).
Quentin & Co. are the Kings and Queens of Fillory in this book AND THEY ARE TERRIBLE (as expected). If it's true that you get the government you deserve, then the people of Fillory must be miserable, pathetic people. I was not surprised at all that someone was trying to assassinate Quentin & Co. I kept hoping they'd succeed. YOU CAN DO IT!! I BELIEVE IN YOU PEOPLE OF FILLORY!! How is there not a revolution in Fillory??? Quentin & Co. are just super lucky that Fillory is a paradise with a perfect self-sustaining economy. God help them if there is ever a food shortage. Quentin likes to pretend that he “tried” to manage his country but then found out it worked without him – which is just an excuse to hunt all the time and lay around whining about how hard life is and, God, he just has so much ennui. The British Royal Family does not have direct ruling powers and yet they manage to productively spend their time with royal duties (it is called DOING SOMETHING FOR OTHERS Quentin! Charity! Getting to know your people! Hosting important figures!).
Poor Penny still gets the short shrift because Quentin cannot stand to be confronted by someone actually better than him – so he lies to himself and pretends the other guy isn’t that cool anyway. This also comes into play with Julia, who gets punished for her hubris hardcore, while Quentin has never had a proper comeuppance.
Below are some of my favorite quotes that illustrate exactly how much of a douchenozzle Quentin is:
“Quentin exercised his royal perogatives and press-ganged all the best shipwrights in the city” (because he is such a selfish asshole, he sees nothing wrong with making the shipwrights drop everything and work on his stupid ship for the stupid quest he just decided to do because he is BORED. Can I say again - HE IS AN AWFUL KING.)
“Of course Penny took this in stride. He would never be so uncool as to give Quentin credit for saving the universe or anything” (THIS IS LIKE EXHIBIT A OF HOW MUCH OF AN ASSHAT QUENTIN IS. Quentin did jackshit in the last book besides very possibly getting other people killed. So, no, Quentin, no one should give you credit for anything. Except credit for being the Best Douchebag. That one’s all yours).
Quentin: "Jesus! Penny, you are unbelieveable! Literally unbelievable! You know, I actually thought you’d changed, I really did. Do you even get that this isn’t about you?" Penny: "Not about me? Spare me that, Quentin. You haven’t spared me much during our long acquaintance, but spare me that. I found the Neitherlands. I found the button. I took us to Fillory. You didn’t do all that, Quentin, I did." (YOU TELL HIM PENNY!!! In any normal book, Penny would be the hero of the story. But this is an upside-down-topsy-turvy-opposite-day-is-everyday kind of world and that means Quentin Should-Be-The-Villain Coldwater is the “hero.”)
Of course, being the masochist I am, I'm gleefully anticipating Book 3. Quentin is just so awful I have this weird compulsion to read more about him. It's like reading celeb gossip for news about the trainwreck that is Lindsay Lohan or watching those crazy Housewives behaving badly. ...more