Although there was a sophomore slump with Royal Airs, I very much enjoy the Elemental Blessings series and am happy that this third installment is theAlthough there was a sophomore slump with Royal Airs, I very much enjoy the Elemental Blessings series and am happy that this third installment is the return to form that I had hoped. It doesn't reach the highs of Troubled Waters, but it was still a very pleasant read.
This book centers on Corene, the Welce princess who fled to the foreign court in Malinqua at the end of Royal Airs. Corene feels out of place and unwanted in Welce, and hopes to find some purpose in Malinqua. The Malinqua Empress has been collecting foreign princesses as potential brides for her three heirs. But this is not a book about Corene trying to decide between three potential emperors. Corene is already in love with her bodyguard, Foley. And none of the heirs are particularly interested in her either (or making a match with the other foreign princesses). This story is really about: Corene growing up, her romance with Foley (a bit), befriending the other princesses (and the daughter of the Empress' advisor, another potential bride), and trying to figure out who has spent years murdering potential heirs - and lately has started targeting ladies who may be getting in the way as well. This book also sets up Book 4 by introducing Leah, a Welce spy in Malinqua, whose latest assignment is to protect Corene. Like Corene, Leah ran away from Welce to escape her past, and is searching for her path in life. I really liked Leah and was excited to see she will be the main focus of the next book. Especially since there are many loose ends to tie up in Leah's story - including the clearly burgeoning romance with a foreign merchant in the Malinqua market who has his own cloudy past.
This book wasn't the most exciting, or the most swoony-worthy or the most fantastical. It wasn't a can't stop reading book. But it was undeniably pleasing to read. That's the best way I can describe it. And I feel like just saying "oh, the book is pleasing" is underselling it. Not every book can be THE book. But there are so many books that are so difficult and unpleasant to read, it is refreshing to find a book I like. And, as I said, I'm excited for the next book. I love the world Shinn has created in the Elemental Blessings, and I feel like Leah's storyline has so much potential. ...more
Prince Jalan is a minor princeling who takes the pleasures of life and runs from the responsibilities. Unfortunately for him, a spell gone wrong (or pPrince Jalan is a minor princeling who takes the pleasures of life and runs from the responsibilities. Unfortunately for him, a spell gone wrong (or possibly right?) ties him to an honorable Viking who is seeking his kidnapped family, and is out for revenge.
While I enjoyed Jalan’s narration, for its cowardly, self-involved, comical, anti-hero view, I just couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters long road trip or if they ever made it to their destination....more
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