This is one of those series that grows on you. I liked the first book, but I wasn’t invested enough in the story yet to truly appreciate it. The author was still growing her craft and developing her characters. By the time I got to book four, I found myself completely enraptured in her world, begging for more, and saddened to realize the series had finally come to an end. What an epic, enthralling adventure.
What I liked:
The world-building. Ms. Schmidt has a gift for painting full-scale worlds with unique cultures and compelling histories, a world so real I wish I could hop on a plane and go for a visit. The backstory is so rich and cleverly sprinkled throughout the story that I never felt as if I were sitting in a history class, but rather like I was living it as it happened.
The characters. Ah, the characters! Even the minor cast will tug at your heart and leave you wishing you had more. And I’m so glad that many of the cast carry over from book to book, allowing us to experience their tales to the fullest. Brant is, as always, my favorite—but the other characters grew on me even more. Particularly Yole, Kitry, the Minstrel and especially Kamarie. I felt that THIS book of all the books pulled her to her lowest and yet to her highest, finally giving her the chance to prove her mettle. I wept with her, cheered with her, longed for her to succeed.
The author’s voice. Ms. Schmidt has a compelling way with words. I love her descriptions, the richness of her passages, the detail and love she installs on the page. I tried to pick one quote from the book to share, but there are too many of them…I would have to copy half the book. I finally chose this bit, because it is at once chilling and beautiful.
“The sea of undead fighters was endless…Their ferocity was only matched by their eerie silence. Even as they fought and fell, they uttered not a word or cry, as if the silence of the grave had risen up to swallow the living.”
What I would have liked done differently:
Um. Not much. This story blew me away with its complexity and beauty. In the earlier books, the omniscient point of view was distracting and took me forever to get used to, but by the time she reached book four, Ms. Schmidt had mastered the technique so well I didn’t even NOTICE the point of view. I think I would have liked more of the story to be told from Kamarie’s perspective. So much of her adventure we see through the eyes of others, and her story is SO GOOD in this book. But I love the characters surrounding her too much to make a big fuss about this point, because in all honesty I wouldn’t want to give up a minute of my time with them either. My only other constructive comment is…why can’t there be a book five? Wink, wink. Just saying. I could really use one more book.
I suggest this book to fans of Tolkien and Lewis. If you like epic fantasy, compelling allegory and rich story-worlds, this book is a sure win. I rate this book high PG for thematic elements and battle sequences.