The length of this was a consideration in my decision — 48 hours is a lot of listening time — but also knowing what I was getting played a part — this following my enjoyment of the previous book.
Taking up where The Way of Kings finished, the same cast returns, only they all end up close together rather than spread over continents. That means there are also far more interaction between them this time, where their stories were far more separate before.
If I’m honest, this is probably more of a 3.5 stars. I enjoyed it immensely, and I’ll pick up the rest of the series at some point, but it’s far from flawless.
To write a store this long featuring, really, only half-a-dozen main characters, you’re going to need to add some twists to the narrative. In this case, each time you think we’ve had a breakthrough there’s another setback or hurdle. It’s fine to start with but does become tiresome. Not to mention the irrational need to hide traits from one another — which is never rationalised that well.
Then there’s the sub-plots. One just ends. We hear nothing more about it past a certain point in the book. It pops up very briefly at the end but there’s no sign of it for a third of the book before that. The others aren’t handled much better.
Surly characters are another thing that grates over time. One of the main protagonists is a childish, grumpy bugger with a chip on his shoulder and that’s fine, but it’s played to death and makes for a very frustrating read (and this also feeds into the previous points about setbacks).
And then we have the PG-13 nature of the story. It covers some aspects on the grimier end of the spectrum, but this is definitely not Game of Thrones. We have courting and some teen-level heart fluttering, but aside from the occasional kiss there’s no mention of sex at all. There’s not all that much in the way of court intrigue either — it’s all done in the open. Murders are typically commited out of sight, and it’s only the aftermath that is spoken of. There’s not even a lot of drinking or fighting.
It’s an intersting enough story, and the characters are enjoyable walk alongside — and there were a few laugh-out-loud passages. Thankfully, I encountered few people when out walking while listening to this as the big grins I sported at times would have made me look maniacal.
If you’re happy with fantasy that leans more towards chivalric ideals and less towards the dark underbelly, combined with a story that is aimed at a less demanding reader, then this is another entertaining read.