Oh "big reveal" why you got be so obvious, man. Seriously, the little "clues"? Too damn obvious. I read you. I loved you. But then things started to fall into a big bulbous mess. I love your words. I love your quiet romance. I love your main character. I love your story. But dude: you suck with the world building. Then, there's that whole surprise surprise, bet you didn't see that coming! I did. Not an epic fail, but still a fail.
The main character became my favorite part. She made the novel for me. She reminds me of Eowyn from Lord of Rings. Warrior.Princess. Queen. Disguises herself during a battle as a man. Swords. Armor. Romantic times with hunky prince. Plus, love triangle cough cough Aragorn and Faramir. Yep. All there. Which, by the way, I TOTALLY LOVED!
Running in a dress is hard enough, but running in a ball gown is like trying to run while wrapped in a tent, so eventually I concede to defeat and heft the whole mess of silk into the air. A few passing courtiers raise their eyebrows, but I hurry past them, too glad to move my legs freely to really care about their shocked looks.
Oh gosh. The sass. I love it when the main character has a mouth on her. Boy oh boy do I love this. She’s sarcastic and witty and I love her. She’s a warrior. She’s a fighter. She’s also a teen. So, yeah, she says things. Things I like. But guys: She’s got feelings. But guess what? As I said, she’s a teen. No shit, Brigid? She's a teen. NO WAY. A Young Adult novel has a teen? And sometimes every teen has moments of immaturity. Is she immature? No. But she has her moments of immaturity. However they do not dominate her character.
Meira's a tomboy. When she’s told stories of court intrigue and the fashion of the court it bores her. Yeah. I feel you, girl. She loves the old tales past wars. But just because she’s a tomboy doesn’t mean she shies away from being a girl. When she’s told to dress up for a ball, she’s like “yeah, sure. Whatever. I’m cool with that.” Which is great, because she realizes the bigger picture. She knows it's important. She’s rational about things. She’s not a dick or a selfish brat when it comes to doing things for her country. She’s a rare case of heroine who is not TSTL (Too Stupid To Live).
Meira wants to do what’s best for her country. She puts her people's needs in front of her own feelings and desires. She wants to fight. But she listen’s to what Sir (her father figure) tells her to. Because, hey he’s got more experience. So, she doesn’t rush into things trying to get her head cut off. He knows his shit, him being a general. While she wants to save her country by fighting, Sir wants her to fight for her country in a different manner. She’s accepts it. While she’s not happy about it, she’s rational about it.
As you've already probably read in the blurb Meira goes on a bit of a mission. Well, once she arrives to said mission spot, the people don't like her. She's lower than they are. Too "barbaric" or peasant like they say. Not good enough for our type of people. She's like whatever. I don't know you. You don't know me, so up yours assholes.
I drop a curtsy and turn away from their assessments, making for the terrace doors. Let them think whatever they like. Let them conspire and say horrible things about me. This isn't my kingdom.
There's a love triangle. I know. I know. Major shocker. I like to make fun of love triangles. What’s not funny about a love triangle? Oh, you fool. Watching two guys pull their shirts off and swing their “swords” about is the most hilarity of hilarious things about love triangles of Young Adult fiction. Oh, dear. I can’t decide! Which dude has the bigger pecks? Hmmmm…..the guy who might bite my neck or the guy who might hump me like a dog? Oh dear. Choices. Choices. But, here’s the thing dear reader: The love triangle did not feel like a love triangle. I wasn’t smirking or huffing and puffing about it. I wasn’t dropping the book to get my snorts under control. I wasn’t rolling my eyes until this red stuff came out. It didn’t bother me. How did that happen? I’m thinking because the romance was quite quiet and not the main focus of the novel. The writing is very well done. I love it when the romance is hushed.
So both guys are nice. But, I found one to be much more whiny and emo than the other. Mather. Why are you so damn moody? I get that you’re the king and you just got to get your feelings out about it: But grow a pair. Face reality. Take the reins. Stop the sobbing, man. You are ruining my good experience with this stellar book. SHUSH!
But dude, saying a girl's success is due to a rock? NO. I can't even explain how degrading that is.
I find it odd that I like Theron. He’s a prince. Usually princes are spoiled little brats who could care a rats ass about their people. Theron wants to be a good king. He wants to be a better king than his father. If anyone is the brat, it’s his father. Theron is smokin’ hot, likes books, a writer, a soldier, and he’s smart. He’s also nice. Check, check, and check.
Things that made me like him:
Theron cocks up a corner of his mouth, studying me in a way that doesn't feel possessive or condescending. It feels equal.
"I want to be someone worthy of my kingdom. I want to be someone worthy of you."
I'm a fan, guys.
You’ve probably already come across season themed world building, if you’re a frequent reader of fantasy. Even though it’s already something that’s been done before, it was still very cool to come across once again. Each nation has it’s own season: Winter (the poor destroyed nation), Spring (the damn enemy), Autumn, and Summer. Then there are the rhythms, the nations outside of the Season Kingdoms. The most important being Cordell, since that’s where our sassy lass travels to. I’m always in bliss when a book features fall or winter. I love descriptions that center around Autumn. Gasp. Sigh. Oh, look at the purty!
Oktuber was a maze of rickety barns and tents in maroon, azure, and sunshine orange, with the crystalline blue sky gleaming above, a sharp and beautiful contrast to the kingdom's earth tones.
For real, I love this type of shit.
I have some opinions on the not so good stuff. And I’m not too happy about it. I may come off a little…annoyed. The world building had basic and formulaic written all over it. At times, it didn’t make sense. Rings or objects with powerful magic can be directed all the way back to Tolkien’s tales of fantasy and the shenanigans that ensue. But objects that have power that connect a ruler to their kingdom, which you can talk to, makes little sense to me. How are you able to talk to a conduit, whether it’s a locket or a knife? Yeah, I get it. Magic isn’t real. Unexplainable they say, but world building includes making sure the reader understands how things work. I don’t understand what the deal is with the object talking and the mysterious premonition happenings. What is the deal here? Half assed explanations, if you ask me. Show me. There’s detail with the world building, sometimes to the extent of info dumping, but I need my explanations. Rant over. Sorry, people.
But, I lied. Rant not over!!! The last 60% of the novel is so much less exciting than I had wanted. The first part of the novel is, as Borat would say “VERY NICE!” Excuse my American accent. Sword fighting. Conduit wielding. Sassy flirting. Dresses. Blood. Murder. All the things happen. Then, after that dreaded sixty percent mark it dies down. It becomes blah blah blah slave camp. Blah blah blah evil guy. Blah blah blah I shall save you. Maybe I’m the only reader who has this opinion, but the pacing seemed to change. Not in a good way. In an “I’m bored” kind of way. I get annoyed when I’m bored.
I'm not going to even talk about that "big reveal" because WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? That was supposed to be the "WOW. WHAT? I would have never guessed. Ya-da ya-da ya-da." No. That did not happen. If you read high fantasy often, it will be very clear to you.
To those who think this book is like Throne of Glass: I don't understand this comparison. I mean, I guess there are certain elements. Like both heroines have white-blond hair. But, think about it. A lot of high fantasy heroines have that color of hair, mostly famously Dany (the chick from Game of Thrones). There's also this thing with a slave camp. Then, there's a love-interest prince. A love-interest warrior. But really? These two books aren't all that similar. The MC in this book is so much more badass and proves her badass-ery. She's sarcastic without being annoying. You actually get to see her kill people.
To reiterate, Celaena:
Should I pick it up?
YES!!! Yes. You should. Do not be scared of the issues. Because, while they exist, they can be overlooked. Plus, a lot of critical reviewers have loved this book despite its faults.