I'd like to preface that I am, actually, occasionally a mature and responsible adult. See, justs this week I met up with alitna
to write. Alas, I was just exhausted after working a full day while still a bit ill and couldn't think of anything to write. But! Instead of faffing around on the net, I checked up things with CSN and filled in forms for my exchange year, quite responsible of me, yes?
And then there's times like yesternight, when I sat up to 03:33 (yep, exactly, I checked my clock) because I couldn't put down Elizabeth Moon's Kings of the North
. No, I did not wake up at nine o'clock like planned to do laundry and go shopping early...
This is the second book in the Paladin's Legacy
trilogy which is a sequel to the trilogy The Deed of Paksenarrion
. The original trilogy is a real classic and a well-deserved one. Excellent female main character, manages to have religious themes and characters that don't bug the hell out of me, interesting plot, detailed world-building with a lot of attention to soldiers and more regular people (Moon has thought of how the plumbing works. Extensively) and enchanted me when I was a teen and still holds up very well for adult readers who have read several good works in the high fantasy genre.
And Paks - Well, Paks was just awesomesauce cool to my younger self. Her, and Kushana from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
were what I wanted to be if I ever got transported to magic land and learned sword fighting XD (only, with less background angst than Kushana, plz)
The Paladin's Legacy books are... weeeell, the first one was nice but a bit confusing since we don't follow one focus character in the same way as in the first books. And Kings of the North? I'm sorry to say that, while I had no problem keeping all the people apart, the overall plot structure in especially the later half of the book disappointed me a bit.
When I can start to see patterns and guess what's going to happen past 02:00, you're heading into dangerously easily-solved territory, ok?
I mean, there are a lot of concepts in this book I like - how things were set in movement by Paks, and not neccessarily by those events that impacted her personal development the most. Dorrin is a great character, and a very unusual type! A somewhat older woman (40-45ish) who gains a great amount of power and yields it with power, compassion and cool logic. That she is the second most prominent character in this trilogy so far makes me very happy.
And then there's Phelan, whom I just adored in the original books. He then had slight hints of Vetinari's characterization around him, although not at all as brilliant and all-knowing. He also has a very interesting backstory and many faults, which of course really come into play here as the books focus a lot on him.
But. Exactly like with the end of the Serrano Legacy* things just... fall into place far too easily during the final. We get new characters who more or less drop into the plot and wrap things up, we get a very rushed romantic subplot and a character makes some weird good-to-evil/no wait!/heel-face-turn I don't even really know journey.
Take the romance, (which, all righ, was slightly hinted): But that minor hint somehow morph into an almost shoujo manga-esque Love at first sight!! thing. Take note, Moon and JKR: Just because you know the characters love each other, doesn't mean the readers do. Have them bloody interact a bit more
. At least this couple talks on a few pages and have a practice fight)( Spoilers ahoy )
The portrayal of the Pargunese was also a bit bwuh to me, but to be honest, I was too tired to properly consider the exact implications at that time.
Also, let's talk about the cover
for a moment! Because, see, this is a rather high-profile fantasy book. Not quite as big as the latest Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson, but large enough that they ship an impressive stack of hardcovers. They're also for some unknown reason (which I much appreciate :) release the trade paperback at the same time, so I don't have to wait six months to read about Phelan and the others' adventures.
All that taken to mind, it really surprises me that they couldn't fix a cover which contains a character actually in the book. See the picture there?
It's definitely not Paks, nor is it Dorrin, seeing as how they are women. (though Dorrin is probably on the cover of book one, Oath of Fealty
, at least it's close to her colors).
Taken together with the title, I would assume the cover to contain either the king of Lyonya or Mikeli, the king of Tsaia. The latter, alas, is a young man just grown into maturity and he doesn't do any fighting in this book. ( Spoiler for the Paksenarrion trilogy )
So, all right, I've whined a lot about Kings of the North now. However, Paladin's Legacy is still 2/3 into the series, absolutely among the better half of fantasy literature that's out there to read. It's not as good as the amazing first trilogy, but until the big wrap-up which contains a bit too much fixit moments for my taste, it is quite interesting. What Moon does well is, among others, that she does not forget the non-kingly characters - the soldiers, the servants, the elderly who remember things. We also meet characters like the Duke of Andressat again and, I have to say, I never expected to like the old snob as much as I did now. Actions from the past have consequences, such that can't be just removed with a bit of magic.
Will I buy the next book? Oh yeah. Will I rec this book series to people? Oh yeah - And I usually anti-rec the Gird prequel to Paksenarrion, because that is just dull in great bits. But, for all the faults here, there are still many great characters and an underlying highly interesting plot thread that I think might remake the world of these characters a great deal.
And now I really gotta go and buy a fuse because one blew yesterday and I have no light in my (windowless) bedroom.*I only bought one of the omnibuses, dunno exactly which books it contains