My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a beautiful breath of fresh air this is! A return to fantasies of old!
I can’t sing the praises of this book enough, but I’ll try.
Firstly, Maas draws fully-formed and multi-dimensional characters: the baddies aren’t all bad, the good have done things they shouldn’t have, even the bit-players have personality.
Our first introduction to the world is from the point of view of a have-not. We see the wrongs of the kingdom and the suffering of its people and know its rulers to be cruel. The protagonist is believable and well-crafted and the balance between back-story and actual story is perfect. But when we see the world from the perspective of one of those haves it turns out not all is as it seems: the antagonists are just as deep, just as full of drive. We begin to wonder if the protagonist has the right world-view even as we know she can’t be far wrong.
Secondly, there’s the story itself. It grows. The plot is believable. New side-stories come in at the perfect times. The perspective changes at a pace to keep us interested as well as showing us more about the characters we’re so damn attached to already.
But best of all, the ending is a double-whammy and is really what gives it the fifth star: not only does it all wrap up nicely at the end, but there are so many hints at hidden pasts and future alliances that I can’t wait to read the next one. I’m hooked!
My only regret is that when I had the chance to buy the full set I only bought the first. (That, and I couldn’t put it down long enough to include any excerpts here. You’ll just have to read it for yourself.)
It puts me in mind of Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series * – not the storyline, but the breadth and depth and scope and the general way you just can’t be pulled out of the story even if you want to.
Definitely one of my top reads for this year!
* The early part of the series, when it was still great – say up to The Blood of the Fold or, at a push, The Faith of the Fallen.