I am of the opinion that this is the first book in this series, even thought it is actually the third. This book contains the first part of the overarching plot that extends through the next eight books. If you are new to the series, start here.
I was very reluctant to buy this book because it was not narrated by Tim Curry, the narrator of the first three books in the series. However I believe that the new narrator did a good job (if not as good as Curry). If you are new to the series start at book 1 because there are minor spoilers in this book.
This is a YA book in a YA series by a YA author, but I have to say that the author did a good job of making this book enjoyable for his older fans. I very much enjoyed that Clariel was not just Sabriel 3.0, being an excellent Charter mage and swordswoman. I was not expecting that she would be a berserker like Touchstone from book 1, and I feel that it did a good job towards diversifying the series. Clariel was a bit whiny for the first half of the book (okay more than a bit) so the author could have reduced the total number of times she wistfully longed for the forest to maybe just once or twice per chapter instead of what seemed like every single paragraph. The other sorta-problem I had with the book was the way that every single adult took Clariel for granted, but I forgive this fact because it's a YA book and that's a theme in the genre. That said I would have liked it if Clariel's mom was a little more approachable/didn't view Clariel as a tool.
The second half of the book spoke more to me as an adult than the first half, being reminiscent in pace of Abhorsen (somewhat rapid fire when compared to the slower pace of Lirael). I liked that Free Magic was viewed as being somewhat not completely evil, just chaotic and freedom seeking, and that Mogget seemed true to form. I did not like that Clariel actually trusted Mogget first thing, but it made sense that she did what she did at the end of the book.
Overall this is a great addition to the series. Not as good as Sabriel, but it was as good as the good bits of Lirael and Abhorsen.
I'm going to keep his short. Originally I was never going to read this book because the previous books in the series pissed me off for various reasons. But I heard a sufficient number of good things about this book for me to give this book a chance, and it paid off. It wasn't a spectacular book by any means, but it was quite enjoyable and I can see myself listening to it again (which is something I cannot say for the other books in the series).
I really liked the first book better than this one because it had a greater sense of presence than this book. That said I did enjoy this book quite a bit. Start with The Killing Moon then continue to this book.
I really liked this book. The story was significantly above average in quality, but not perfect. I will be reading the following books in this series in the months to come despite the imperfections. I could consistently see humor and good story telling in the story, which I thoroughly enjoyed. My one suggestion to the author would be to add more humor in the future, so we had something funny or a joke every two or three pages instead of every ten or twenty.
My main issue was the narrator. She just didn't click with me. I liked 9/10ths of the voices she used, but disliked the voice she used for Tara. She made one of the main characters sound as if she had a lisp, or something. It was super minor, but it bugged me.
NK Jemisin is swiftly becoming one of my favorite authors. Her characters are solid, her settings are strong, and everything has a unique taste. I will never look at the word Peace the same again.
I just finished the book a few minutes ago, and I have to say that I am impressed. I have one or two nitpicks with the story. Overall this is a good book, a very good book. If you got a little tired after the last book, never fear. This story is easily in the top 5 best Dresden books, maybe top 3. Spoilers below.
Nitpicks: 1. I wanted NickyD or Polonious Lartessa to die. They've been baddies in so many books now that their constantly failing makes them seem incompetent. They're no Team Rocket, but seriously they never get ahead. If one of them died it would have progressed the story in an interesting fashion, giving the slayer glory and forcing the remaining Denarians to double down in all future appearances.
2. The twist. I don't mind that their was a twist at the end, but I would have liked better foreshadowing that it occurred instead of on the spot revealing of character motivations. I don't want to describe this too in depth, but one character had an awfully convenient change of heart. More foreshadowing would have helped.
3. For the third book in a row Dresden is still whining about his deal with Mab. GET OVER IT ALREADY. I don't like whiners.
4. Even though a year passed since the last book, everyone recalls it just like it was yesterday. To better explain this, all character relationships seem to have been put in stasis for an entire year, waiting for this story to take place to further develop those relationships. This isn't how people actually work.
5. Why does anyone trust NickyD at all? I mean seriously everyone knows he's a fallen angel. Who would trust him? I certainly don't think the assembled baddies who were hired would have trusted NickyD enough to go on this venture.
Looking past these nitpicks I am extremely pleased with this book. I would have liked the book to be shorter, taking away some pre-bank vault scenes, but besides that it really was great.
This book was more of the same as the previous books in the series: nothing a lot better and nothing a lot worse. If you want to hop into the series, do so earlier on. It's a solid series and I do recommend it. Instead of gushing why I enjoyed this book (and I need to insist that I did enjoy it net total) I'm going to list the handful of issues which I had with it.
1. I would have liked a few more plot twists. I kept expecting betrayal from within as well as unexpected defenses from Starfire. In the end the good guys just won without anything going wrong/getting worse. It made the badass evil humans seem less competent, which kinda marginalized their coolness. I wanted Sunny, or Paul, or Bryce, or someone to betray the team just cause it would have made for a better ending. With the whole 'Can we trust Elan? Zane?' plotlines suggested at the beginning of the book I assumed that there was going to be some sort of betrayal later on, but it never happened.
2. I would have liked more of a mystery theme to the story. The reason why I was initially attracted to the series was because of the mystery, but it seems that in recent novels the author has turned away from the formula. I like to read mystery books where someone uses modern science with a spritz of magic to solve murders. I'm indifferent to the whole demon-realm sequences/demon-politic plotlines. In the recent "of the Demon" books these plotlines have been brought to the forefront at the expense of mystery. As I'm a mystery reader, this is a big turn off. Furthermore I'm a dude and not appreciative of the increasingly relevant romance components (I don't hate them, but frankly it's like we're tripping over Mizotl every two minutes). That's 2 strikes.
3. The author's voice is improving the more books I've read, but this is slightly offset by the fact that the books are growing. This book took me 20+ hours to listen too, which was too long. I got as much enjoyment out of this book as I would have expected from a 16 hour book, so it was kinda dull in spots for me. Again part of the problem here is that I feel disenfranchised, no longer being this series' target audience. If you are interested in a kickass female protagonist who consorts (in both senses of the word) with demons then this book should be right up your alley. If so that 20 hours might be action packed from top to toe.
4. Everything has a demon name, or weird sigil name, or whatever. It wasn't confusing so much as annoying: I didn't want to expend the effort to learn what everything means. Paiga was the worst offender, mainly because it's used what seems like once every five minutes. Also, wtf is Paiga-ing? Is it meditation, or calming magic? I think it's both, but I'm not quite sure. It happens all the time when the author could just say instead, "I forced myself to remain calm."
Also why does everything have a demon-name, except the demon-realm? Why doesn't Mizotl or the demons call it by it's real name? Is this oversight, or just inattention on my part?
5. Why didn't they just go to the demon realm and start summoning enemy summoners/ Ferush/Jerry/other enemy humans to "interview"? It seems like the most logical method for not only finding Idris but dismantling the enemy army. It was done previously in the series to great effect by Mizotl himself, so we know it can be done. As Kara herself is a summoner I'm surprised this solution didn't occur to her. Sure some of the baddies would be protected, but probably not Ferush. We know he wasn't wearing a magic-blocking anklet simply because he was able to read minds every time he was on screen. Just kidnap the guy and he would have crumbled.
6. So... Tracy? Was he just a kook? If so, how did he get info on Farush? Now that both Tracy and Farush is dead I fear we won't get any answers. Or perhaps inattention caused me to not notice the answer to this question either.
Ruling: I don't think this was worth my audible credit, but honesty it was close. I'm going to wait until future books are on sale before purchasing their e-paper copies. I only buy audiobooks when I am reasonably confident that I will want to listen to it again, and the way this series is going I don't think I can get more than one listen out of a single book.
Also: Would it kill the author to put in another gag-worthy morgue scene?! I mean seriously, I haven't vomited in months.
I read the first book and it left me hopeful enough to try the second book. Unfortunately for me I was never a huge fan of the first book and this book was more of the same. I didn't like the characters in these books, but I felt that the prose and the plot made up for them to some extent.
I will not be following this series in the future because the characters didn't seize me/were too dense for my taste. Hopefully the author's characterization improves somewhat in the future because his prose is very good. I wanted to like the book simply because of the writing style, but that wasn't enough to carry it for me. I finished it, but was left wanting.
If you want a book with good writing, good fights, and mostly good story and plot this might just be the book for you.
I have no regrets for reading this book. The author does a good job (as far as I, a non blind person can tell) of portraying a set of experiences from a blind person's perspective. You have to read it after the first book, but that's not such a bad thing. I'll probably listen to it again down the road. Another thing: the narrator adds a lot to the book. I highly suggest you pick this up.
My only 2 qualms about this book are that the ending was identified too far in advance and that the main character had very little agency throughout the book. Besides those, this book was excellent.
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