There is a set of fantasy books that I mentally assign to personally defined subgenre, the post-GRRM dude "gritty" multivolume epic fantasy. And I while I love GRRM´s writing and that particular series, I have had no luck with the subgenre it seemed to have spawned (or at least encouraged to publication and popularity) - with Erikson (gameish fantasy wishfulfillment stuff disguised as a novel), with Abercrombie (meh, do not care for any of his characters), with Scott Bakker (do not care for anything. Though will give it another try), with the so acclaimed Rothfuss (21st century Terry Brooks. Mary Sue land totally).BTW those are all personal opinions, tastes vary and all that - but still, that is what I thought for your easy reference of what my taste is. Books usually highly rated (wonderful prose! compelling characters! Believable female characters whose "believability" consists of hot chicks just gagging for the probably foul smelling "gritty" male main character. Oh wait, believable female characters is not something they worry much about. YMMV) by a peculiar demographic, the dudes who can not have an ounce of respect for any fiction with any elements slightly ya-know-cooties-carrying girly.
Yes, I am bitter and I am picky (and if you got other recs, do let me know). But my mental image of this book was rather different, and worse, than what it turned out to be, so just explaining my misconception and So while I wanted to try this, just in case, it languished on my TBR pile for quite a few years.
And this is good, even very good, and dear dude post-GRRM "gritty" multivolume epic fantasy (maybe I need an acronym for this) genre, you are sort of redeemed in my eyes. Great atmospheric setting, interesting characters (including many of the secondary or tertiary characters), twisty plot details, nice writing.
Stopping it from being perfect, well I got some quibbles. Our main character is not, when his actions are analyzed, as smart as he is supposed to be (view spoiler)[namely when blackmailed to impersonate the Grey King, he does not even try to think of a way to twist out (hide spoiler)]
. The plot sometimes feels a bit patched, for example some events on the buildup for the ending, as well as some of the bad dudes´s skills and motivations feels a bit contrived (view spoiler)[
crime boss seems to kill "the grey king" much too easily and without suffering; the disguise of the "grey king" seems to survive that close scrutiny; the grey king and his sisters´ past history is very melodramatic and impressive, but come on surely what are the odds of orphan children escaping would just became the best fights in the history of that "sport" or a super pirate? And the first name thing, oh come on, that was unbelievably stupid from the mage, and you could see that one coming from miles. The thing with the wraithstone plot and Locke´s dilemma was a bit too Hollywood, no offense to Hollywood (hide spoiler)]
. The narrative style is not totally linear. A subjective, or even more subjective, complaint while very readable and a very fast read on points ( the flashbacks mostly), there was an occasional lull to the rhythm. But in all I liked it a lot AND respect it.
Some spoilerish questions, because google is failing me at finding discussions for these topics(view spoiler)[:
- Jean was the one who started the fire who killed his parents, right? It is implied so subtly.
- So, Sabetha. Almost cheating to have no glimpse. Is she on book 2, or do we have to wait for book 3? (hide spoiler)]