I was very interested in the idea of the first book: taking the viewpoint of the Tolkien-style "evil" races and exploring an individual's experience and ethical growth in the face of an "evil" culture, leadership, and deity. I stuck through progressively worse books, all in hope the author was going to take that idea to its fruition.
I liked the story of the first book--despite the very week development of the mythology, history, and characters. I thought that the paper thin facade of the background story of "good" vs "evil" was just that--a "facade"--and that the author was setting it up just to tear it down in the second and third book (as a great trilogy author would). I put up with the lack of any rules to the character's abilities (a new magical ability or skill seems to pop out of thin air as the author needs it to push the story along). I also put up with the main character's inanate physical abilities (which conveniently for the story-telling are alternately awe inspiring and then insufficient throughout the series) AND WORSE innate "goodness" without any real explanation or development (only weak, underdeveloped hints as to the influence of the father or sister or third book "goddess/heart").
But to my great dismay, the second book was even less nuanced and only detracted from the depth of the character--adding in childish ("young adult") motivations, dialog, and actions. From this book forward, everyone he meets is either pure good (open minded, accepting, kind--always after a short adjustment period) or through and through "Cruella De Vil" evil (so borring!).
It got exponentially worse in the third and final book. The author almost entirely dropped the mythology of the first book; only at times making a surface nod towards a larger idea (e.g. the main character has issues with one of his abilities on the surface, but that is never explored). Worse the author exchanged the underdeveloped villains of the first and second book--who had some potential for depth/interest (spider goddess, main character's family, mercenary group) for pathetic caricatures of recycled Disney villians (mountain troll gang leader, then mountain orc gang leader, then vindictive mountain man).
Loved the original idea--hated the execution.
I've always been impressed by Kay's writing. This was a very interesting idea with some real potential. Yet, towards the end I wasn't able to stay under its spell- and I lost my ability to suspend my disbelief regarding the evolution of some of the characters.
Really enjoyed this one. Some of the characters really came into their own and the relationships and storyline became more compelling.
While not as mind-blowingly good as the first book, with a bit more rambling, less focused story-telling this book was nonetheless an enjoyable read well worth the credit.
The reviews seemed pretty positive, from readers with similar tastes, so I gave it a try.
In fact I gave it three separate tries.
I guess its just not my cup of tea.
Neither the plot or the characters captured me.
At the risk of being obnoxious, I'd say this book "jumped the shark" about half way through.
It started as a well-written and interesting urban psuedo-fantasy mystery. I was curious about what was hidden behind the strange occurrences and was drawn along with the characters.
However, as the mystery was revealed, it got odder and odder. Eventually it stretched my ability to suspend my disbelief. Not necessarily because the circumstance became so surreal (and they did) but because the characters, for the most part, took it all so well--as if it were just another challenge to overcome.
All in all it kept me entertained, but I'll think twice before buying another book from this author.
I enjoyed, but wasn't blown away by this book. There were some interesting concepts bantered about by the main character, but nothing too profound or meaningful was every truly developed. Story line was run of the mill. But the writing was pretty good.
That's the Sanderson I've been waiting for!!!
Picks up the storyline and expands on it.
A couple parts felt a little bit cheezy (ala Stealheart and not Way of Kings), but not too bad.
Nothing to write home to mother about. But an enjoyable fantasy story set in a feudal Japanese society.
I liked it and may look for sequels.
This book took me by surprise. Both in how much I enjoyed it and in how diverse it felt in plot and story-telling.
It starts in the near future in a sort-of FBI pseudo mystery- setting, mildly calling to mind The X-Files (a character even directly references it). This section had some very brutal and sad events that made me consider putting the book down, but I'm glad I didn't
The story later shifts into a few very different mid-apocalyptic narrative (some personal narratives) that is very imaginative and empathetic.
Then it shifts again into a post-apocalyptic community survival story.
Yet, it is all very purposeful and interconnected. The need for the great span of time and the diversity of POV becomes apparent as the story progresses.
Given its length and shifting story-lines, Mr. Cronin could have easily broken this up into more than one book. I greatly respect that he didn't and I think it made for a better story.
I'm already onto the next book in the series and enjoying it.
The book was a bit of a roller coaster for me.
For the 1st half or so I was interested but not truly captured by the story. Then it hooked me hard. But then I thought the story/plot was becoming predictable and too "safe." Then it went a whole new direction--which surprised me (and I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but it was interesting).
Another review compared it to Game of Thrones, while I see the comparison--mostly due to the multiple first person point of views and the divergent and re-convergent story lines--it has a very different feel. Enjoyable, but without the same sense of gritty "realism" for the characters, except for some distinct segments. There is a similar story arc regarding the diaspora of siblings from a family destroyed by political/military conflict set to a background of layered personal, political, and mythological conflict. There is also a similar "forgotten" history of a dark and mysterious foreign threat looming behind the story-line in the first book--waiting to be developed, I presume, in the following books.
And there are some interesting and some what unique ideas here and some great potential for an intriguing epic story.
In short: I liked it and I'm going on to the next book. It isn't yet one of my favorites, but I could see it becoming one of them if the series continues on its current trajectory.
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