Rating: 4 out of 5
This volume really brought it home in the series… I liked it more than the previous ones, because this book, more than the others, focussed on the formative experiences and the training of the protagonist. This meant that we saw more of her character than we otherwise have, and this helps us create a picture of Celaena better than what we had before. Plus, a look into the how of the training also gives us insights into the author–and what they consider relevant in a story.
My one question though… Why is it always fire? It’s not as if there are no other elements, but ‘fire’ seems to stoke some inner feeling which makes so many authors reach for this force when trying to choose what their protagonist should be really good at. This, along with the convenient use of personal blocks and sheltering from memories, made me think of another fantasy series I recently read (by R.F. Kuang) which was admittedly a fair bit more innovative in what it used as sources.
The characters developed and changed. This was welcome since so much of the past series went by without anything important really taking place. Yet, the one enigma in this cast of characters still is the king, guided by an inexplicable powerlust that really shouldn’t have a place in fantasy. I know now, looking back from after Book 4, that this does get an explanation, but I feel that the “evil megalomaniac king” theme was drawn out for much too long for it to carry any weight by now.
Some of the mysteries that become side-plots were quite interesting. It’s a pity, again, that to solve these mysteries we only have wannabe crime fighters whose real experience doesn’t really go into crime forensics. I mean, the character put in charge (or who assumes leadership) of these murder investigations is a real hot shot in everything, but he doesn’t seem to really know what to do with evidence or where to go with what he finds. Oh well; I guess a world without the internet does leave a lot fewer clues for your characters to find their way through?..
I enjoyed this; it was a good—if not great—volume, but not sure I’d return to the series for another read-through (might change).