Charles's Reviews > Prince of Dogs

Prince of Dogs by Kate Elliott
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's review
Dec 12, 2014

really liked it
bookshelves: 2015-challenge, fantasy, stat_2, reviewed

Stuff I Read – Prince of Dogs by Kate Elliott Review

I think I have a weird way of reading this series. Namely, that it's been about two years since I read the first book and I'm just now getting the second one. Which is not to say that I didn't like the first book. It was incredibly difficult to read at times, but it was still good and still what I like in a fantasy series. It's just that I had stumbled across the book and it took this long to stumble across the next one. But the series has only gotten better since the first book. People like me, who have taken a bit of a break between volumes, should still be able to pick this book up and remember almost instantly what was going on.

When we last left everyone, after all, things were not exactly in a great place. The tribes from the north of the dragon-people had taken the city and everyone believes Saglant to be dead. Which he is not, but he's not really in any better shape. And boy does he get put through the wringer in this book. He's kept barely alive and treated like a dog and just left there for so long. The book covers some time, from Henry's victory in the South to much later when they finally manage to raise an army to retake the north, but there's about a year of time in there. People are not idle, though. The Eagles (Liath and Hannah) are both off doing things, Hannah having to face some creepy creatures as she loses the prisoner she was taking to justice and Liath once again having to put up with a lot of crap after believing Saglant dead.

The series does a great job, as before, of juggling a number of plots and politics. Everything is alive, complex, the world ringing with a certain authenticity. The story does not skip over the unpleasant details, either. Indeed, it confronts the reader with many things. The fates of refugees are not overlooked nor are they handled with anything less than grace, as the story focuses on a brother and sister who struggle to keep a place to be and keep each other. Their's isn't exactly a happy story, but it is one that ends well in the book, providing at least some closure. Most of the rest of the other plots are left open to be continued. Including the gut-punchiest of them all: the return of Hugh.

I was really hoping that guy would stay gone, but here he is, once more using his privilege to get what he wants, to get people to believe him. Everyone wants to believe, wants to give him the benefit of the doubt. He's such a good person to them. They don't want to know that he raped and beat someone. Doesn't want to know what he's really capable of. Again it's really uncomfortable to watch, because it's a part of fantasy settings that's not often delved so graphically into. But it, too, rings of truth. It seems real, especially how everyone seems to question the story that he would be such an abusive terror.

Also delved a bit more into are the dragon-people, the Eika. The youngest son, the one that Alain freed, is setting himself up to be a new kind of ruler, and it's him who reveals most about the culture from the north, the tribes and the women who slowly turn to stone. It really is an interesting setting, the magic and everything working subtly but definitely present, definitely defining a lot of the world. And I love how religion is front and center as a component of everyday life, how it controls so much that is good and so much that is bad. It's interesting and strong and shows how much this series pops when compared to many others.

Not that it's perfect, though. It does have a few problem, one of them being how many really cringe-worthy convenient or coincidental things happen. I mean, part of that is no doubt intentional, but at times it does seem like the universe is out to get certain characters. Which I guess makes sense, as it can seem that way when someone who is not part of a group of power and privilege tries to do anything, even if it's only to avoid abuse. Mostly the uncomfortable is really well done, but sometimes I did sort of wonder. Some of the plot lines are more interesting than others, as well. This book Alain's story is all right, but while it's interesting what's happening to him, I just didn't feel like he had as much movement as in the first book. Still, there are a lot of characters and almost all of them are compelling.

So yes, this is a series I will definitely continue. At some point when I can find the next book (in hardcover). I'm really liking it so far, and it does stand out from the field as a fantasy series that does an awful lot that other series do not do. It's strong and emotional and exciting and a lot of stuff happens. Character move around, are betrayed, and manage to win the day. For now at least. I can't wait to see where it's going. An 8.5/10.

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Reading Progress

December 12, 2014 – Shelved
December 12, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
December 12, 2014 – Shelved as: 2015-challenge
March 30, 2015 – Started Reading
March 30, 2015 –
page 62
10.47% "And so, two years later, I start book two. Quite good so far!"
April 4, 2015 –
page 130
21.96% "Still building, but quite good work. I think I'm fully back into the setting after nearly two years away. So yeah, quite good."
April 5, 2015 –
page 459
77.53% "This is not a happy book. But is a good one. Going to be hard to wait another two years to get to the next volume, but that's the state of my TBR stack at the moment."
April 6, 2015 –
page 592
100.0% "Well that ended on more of an upnote than I thought it would. Pieces are moving. Quite a good read. Hits that epic fantasy itch just right while doing so much that many series do not."
April 6, 2015 – Shelved as: fantasy
April 6, 2015 – Shelved as: stat_2
April 6, 2015 – Finished Reading
April 24, 2015 – Shelved as: reviewed

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