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Abyss'mal Essalieyan read thread Now reading THE SHINING COURT... already shinier than Tiste's thre

#1 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 16 May 2023 - 02:54 PM

Just Finished House War bk 1, THE BROKEN CROWN....

SPOILERS unblocked for that book only. No later book spoilers here.

Allow me to cherrypick the earlier thread for some relevant points....




View PostAbyss, on 21 April 2023 - 01:53 PM, said:

View PostQuickTidal, on 21 April 2023 - 01:06 PM, said:

View PostTiste Simeon, on 21 April 2023 - 01:01 PM, said:

The main thing I took from that, QT is how off my spelling is haha.

This is clearly a wonderfully deep and well crafted world and I'm glad I'm going to stick with it...


I see the same thing from Abyss when he does Audiobooks, it's hard to suss out how names are spelt! LOL It's all good.

Glad you're sticking with it, it's so good as it gets properly going.


This is totally a thing and now I just embrace it.



View PostTiste Simeon, on 21 April 2023 - 05:29 PM, said:

View PostAbyss, on 21 April 2023 - 01:52 PM, said:

View PostJPK, on 21 April 2023 - 04:19 AM, said:

View PostAbyss, on 21 April 2023 - 03:24 AM, said:

As I have both series, am going to follow published order and start w THE BROKEN CROWN.
Are you going the earbook route per usual?


Yep.

The narrator is quite good. She's expressive and all but doesn't have a very wide range of voices. However, I'm finding that the way she tells the story means I'm not sure it matters, she has a good way with it so the voices are incidental.

That's my thinking on it and I'm liking her more each time I listen, you might feel differently.




The narrator Eva WIlhelm did a very good job with this. Considering she had to work with +/- eight POV voices and two distinct accents (Dominion and Empire), and managed to keep them all distinct and clear, 'very good' is impressive. There were a maybe 2-3 times where a large group conversation was just a bit harder to clearly follow who was speaking or thinking but for the actual text saying so, but those moments jumped out because she did solid work otherwise.

I was trying to figure out why her voice sounded familiar; a quick search showed she's a regular on Graphic Audio productions including the Eric Carter Necromancer series i'm a fan of.

There was not much action in this book, but the two significant scenes - Kiriel saving Valedan, and Alesso v cranky demon who only showed up to give Alesso someone to fight - were done well enough. To be fair, while the Kiriel scene is told in detail and gives the narrator opportunity to pace and pitch accordingly, Alesso's fight is told mostly thirdhand by people having borderline bored conversations around it, so her opportunity to crank up the narration was limited.

As earbooks go, this was a solid adaptation, no complaints.

More about the book itself nextpost.
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#2 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 16 May 2023 - 03:33 PM

Now then...

I LIKED:
- the two main cultures - Annagar and Essalian - the author set up here, and the history of conflict between them offset by the border rulers who have their own history of trade and getting run over or displace whenever some assholes way across the country decided it was time for a war;

- Teresa was an excellent character, a woman who has amassed power and influence in a culture where that should be impossible. Her impact on her niece Diora and how they reflect each other at different points in life was very well written and readable;

- the ambiguity around Sendari and Alesso. Ambitious men who at times seem to be acting in the interests of their beloved country and other times entirely in their own personal interests;

- Kiriel - because the author did a very nice job of hinting at things and showing others without belaboring her inner angst or narrative;

- The Ospreys - this was borderline Bridgeburners level eccentric soldiers who have each others' backs and are excellent despite or because of their eccentricities. They were a big chunk of why i enjoyed Kiriel's storyline;

- The Kalakar - great character, loved how her loyalty to her people was woven into everything she did and they do for her;

- Alesso v a demon - where Isladar interferes and Alesso tells him to let the demon go so they can finish their fight and everyone else is telling him to drop it and he absolutely no fucking way will drop it. My favorite moment for the character, despite points noted below.

DID NOT LIKE:

- The infodumps. Dear god the pages and pages of explanation were tiresome, and just barely informative enough that skimming meant i would miss something important. Honestly i kind of hate this type of writing, but there was enough goodness otherwise to keep me around when it became too much;

- The Kin, The Shining Court, The Lord of I AM SO VERY EVIL EEEEEVVVVIIIIILLLLLLL - From Isladar's rape intro thru pretty much everything else he and the rest of the Kin did, i found them to be very very blunt baddies. That Alesso was willing to deal with them while acknowledging this was initially interesting but after the third or so 'i am altering the deal pray i do not alter it any further' moment i was eyerolling. Add to that Kiriel telling us the one she stopped was among the weakest after he popped in, massacred 20something people, but Alesso taking one in hand-to-hand. I enjoyed both scenes but the messaging is inconsistent. I'm left thinking the one Alesso fought threw the fight, which minimizes what Alesso seemed to pull off but also suggests all this plotting is stupid because the Demons could just march into wherever they wanted whenever they felt like it because Kiriel can't stop them all, except that someone mentioned Kiriel killed a third of their army... in which case why did she have that much trouble w one... it all just leaves them, in my head, as less a valid threat and more a plot device lacking subtlety or sufficient development. Even the demon Alesso fights - and it's mostly a great fight - suffers from lack of development. It shows up, is an asshole, picks a fight, more or less just showing up so Alesso can do something awesome for once in the book;

I do like the notion that Anagar's Lord of Light is also the Kin's Lord of Nightmares, but the way this is hinted at is confusing in its confusion. At times it seems to be stated as a fact and at others it cannot possibly make sense;

- the finale - I generally liked the way the ceremony w the sword played out, but i could have used just a bit more tension to it. It was obvious what would happen, Fredero was always going to pick up the sword to prove it worked, and then no one else would be stupid enough to do the same because the guy just burst into flame and Valeran is still alive. The sole point of this was to set Diora against Alesso and the other ambitious Tyr daring them to take up the sword that her very dead late husband could have. The problem w the scene is that everyone knows Valeran is alive, and no one is stupid enough to count of divine providence to let them pull it. I wish the news around Valeran had been buried, i wish Alesso had manipulated Eduardo or Mareo into making the play, i just wanted more anything than exactly what i expected. So no big fight, no big AHA! moment, just a conflict that was building being set out in the open.

- this is just a personal foible, but books where characters spend entire chapters lamenting the circumstances of their social status bore me. I didn't care for it by Jane Austen and i don't love it here and it is a BIG part of this book.


Thus, here i am, having just finished it.
I'm in for book 2, i trust the views of those of you who swear it picks up (ffs i'm a malazfan how do i not?).
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Posted 16 May 2023 - 03:52 PM

Regarding Valendan, it's not made clear in the first book, but lots of people in the Dominion don't believe that he's actually of the Leonne bloodline. West could have made a better job of showing that, methinks. Which is why Fredero's sacrifice was necessary.

The second volume is less sprawling and doesn't cover years of the timeline. As such, The Uncrowned King makes for a more streamlined reading experience.

Also, Isladar is not the Lord of Night. Just a Kialli. . .
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Posted 16 May 2023 - 05:01 PM

View Postpat5150, on 16 May 2023 - 03:52 PM, said:

Regarding Valendan, it's not made clear in the first book, but lots of people in the Dominion don't believe that he's actually of the Leonne bloodline. West could have made a better job of showing that, methinks. Which is why Fredero's sacrifice was necessary.


Agreed. There is one moment in the meeting w the Kings where Val is called the son of a concubine and proudly declares his pedigree and adoption into the House Lionne. It's a good scene and one of the first where he shows some backbone. That this was a plot point over in Anagar was more or less lost.

Quote

The second volume is less sprawling and doesn't cover years of the timeline. As such, The Uncrowned King makes for a more streamlined reading experience.


Noted, tnx.

Quote

Also, Isladar is not the Lord of Night. Just a Kialli. . .


That's clear, and Issi says as much a few times, ....but it's Isladar who rapes Kiriel's mom, and it's implied that Kiriel is the daughter of the Lord (and also apparently she personally massacred a third of their army), not Isladar, which suggests something more.
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#5 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 16 May 2023 - 05:23 PM

Even after 6 books, we're still not sure
Spoiler
Or does it?

Hard to say at this point. About 4000 pages down the line and Kiriel remains the protagonist on whom we know the least about. West has played her cards very close to her chest regarding Kiriel and most of what we discover about her comes from other characters' POVs. Given that I'm now reading the last book and she's on the cover, here's to hoping that we'll finally find out the truth about her. Then again, it could come during the final 5 books of the House War series. . .

This post has been edited by Abyss: 16 May 2023 - 06:10 PM
Reason for edit: spoilers'ish'esque things

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Posted 17 May 2023 - 12:35 PM

View PostAbyss, on 16 May 2023 - 05:01 PM, said:

View Postpat5150, on 16 May 2023 - 03:52 PM, said:

Regarding Valendan, it's not made clear in the first book, but lots of people in the Dominion don't believe that he's actually of the Leonne bloodline. West could have made a better job of showing that, methinks. Which is why Fredero's sacrifice was necessary.


Agreed. There is one moment in the meeting w the Kings where Val is called the son of a concubine and proudly declares his pedigree and adoption into the House Lionne. It's a good scene and one of the first where he shows some backbone. That this was a plot point over in Anagar was more or less lost.

Quote

The second volume is less sprawling and doesn't cover years of the timeline. As such, The Uncrowned King makes for a more streamlined reading experience.


Noted, tnx.


To be more clear, Book 2 is "The Games" book....imagine Annagar and the Empire engaging in a series of Games in and around Averaalan...and all the tension and shenanigans that come from such a universally stupid event to engage in with someone who likes to go to war with you.

LOL

But yeah, there's nothing at all that's set in Annagar in Book 2, it's ALL in the Empire and only features some Annagarians.
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#7 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 17 May 2023 - 01:42 PM

Not many Annagarians, but some of the best!

Ser Anton is West's Jaime Lannister. Serra Alina also comes into her own in this one. The same goes with Ser Ramiro and General Baredan.

This post has been edited by pat5150: 17 May 2023 - 01:42 PM

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Posted 22 May 2023 - 06:05 AM

I'm hijacking this thread instead of creating my own. I finished The Broken Crown and what a ride that was. Such a slow burn at first and I have to agree with Abyss that there are a few too many infodumps but man this is a well crafted and fascinating world!

I love how at the end of the novel the women (Diora and Teresa at least) are shown to have power following however many pages of LOOK AT HOW WOMEN ARE TREATED and it was great to see some of the men upstaged.

The scenes in Essalian were much better and more interesting on the whole and I love Kirriel, Khallandaras, Jewel and Kalakar the most. Looking forward to seeing how the Kirriel/Calendar relationship develops and to seeing more of the Ospreys.

I have The Uncrowned King downloaded and ready to go after catching up with a couple of podcasts.

Thanks again to Pat and QT for the recommendations and putting up with my unceasing string of questions!
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#9 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 22 May 2023 - 01:59 PM

:headbang:
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#10 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 23 May 2023 - 02:34 PM

I'm just going to shift this thread into
my own personal reading thread for the series,
anyone is welcome to jump in
but
no spoilers past wherever i'm at
please thanks
and also
i know where you sleep.

Thus.... on with
THE UNCROWNED KING

SPOILERS
FROM
HERE
ON

....and wow that was an extendd prologue but i'm already liking this more. Aidan was a great narrator and a study in how to convey information from narrator to reader without infodump. Honestly it's like a whole other author :)

I like the contrast between Aidan and the formality of the Annagarian Master whose adoption of Aidan as guide and audience is entirely believable. It would be really simple for the 'farm boy meets noble' trope to go silly here and West nicely avoids it. Even the brief segments of Aidan bemoaning his circumstances are admirably brief and connected to whatever else is going on.

The revelation of who the Master is, and then Aidan seeing the bestest swordsman and having it turn out to be Valendar, were both VERY well written.

This prologue engaged me better than the entire first half of CROWN.
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#11 User is offline   QuickTidal 

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Posted 23 May 2023 - 02:42 PM

View PostAbyss, on 23 May 2023 - 02:34 PM, said:

....and wow that was an extendd prologue but i'm already liking this more. Aidan was a great narrator and a study in how to convey information from narrator to reader without infodump. Honestly it's like a whole other author :)


She gets better and better with each book she's written. The House War books are 'next level' because she's 100% figured out the right amount. But yeah, Book 2 should move at a faster clip throughout for you.

View PostAbyss, on 23 May 2023 - 02:34 PM, said:

I like the contrast between Aidan and the formality of the Annagarian Master whose adoption of Aidan as guide and audience is entirely believable. It would be really simple for the 'farm boy meets noble' trope to go silly here and West nicely avoids it. Even the brief segments of Aidan bemoaning his circumstances are admirably brief and connected to whatever else is going on.

The revelation of who the Master is, and then Aidan seeing the bestest swordsman and having it turn out to be Valendar, were both VERY well written.


The tippy top of the iceberg my friend, the tippy top.

View PostAbyss, on 23 May 2023 - 02:34 PM, said:

This prologue engaged me better than the entire first half of CROWN.


Glad you're digging it man. It's a ride and a half.
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#12 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 23 May 2023 - 03:52 PM

The relationship between Ser Anton and Aidan was one of my favorite things about The Uncrowned King!
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Posted 23 May 2023 - 03:55 PM

View PostQuickTidal, on 23 May 2023 - 02:42 PM, said:

She gets better and better with each book she's written. The House War books are 'next level' because she's 100% figured out the right amount. But yeah, Book 2 should move at a faster clip throughout for you.


I agree with you. I think that there was just too much to include in The Broken Crown and it hurt the story to some extent. But with the groundwork laid out in the first volume, it makes for smoother sailing from here on out.
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#14 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 30 May 2023 - 12:44 AM

Five chapters in...

Everybody: wow this contest is a big deal.

Val: gee, I better not screw up.

Everybody else: hey did we mention this contest is a big deal?

Val: OK I GET IT WOULD YOU ALL JUST DO SOMETHING ELSE FOR FIVE MINUTES JEEZUZ

Everybody to Everybody Else: so about that war thing and also we should talk about this contest that's a big deal...
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#15 User is offline   QuickTidal 

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Posted 30 May 2023 - 12:24 PM

View PostAbyss, on 30 May 2023 - 12:44 AM, said:

Five chapters in...

Everybody: wow this contest is a big deal.

Val: gee, I better not screw up.

Everybody else: hey did we mention this contest is a big deal?

Val: OK I GET IT WOULD YOU ALL JUST DO SOMETHING ELSE FOR FIVE MINUTES JEEZUZ

Everybody to Everybody Else: so about that war thing and also we should talk about this contest that's a big deal...


LOL. They 100% hammer it at him. Poor Valedan...he has some SERIOUSLY epic moments in book 2. Just you wait...
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Posted 30 May 2023 - 01:45 PM

What QT said. :)
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#17 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 30 May 2023 - 02:00 PM

View PostQuickTidal, on 30 May 2023 - 12:24 PM, said:

View PostAbyss, on 30 May 2023 - 12:44 AM, said:

Five chapters in...

Everybody: wow this contest is a big deal.

Val: gee, I better not screw up.

Everybody else: hey did we mention this contest is a big deal?

Val: OK I GET IT WOULD YOU ALL JUST DO SOMETHING ELSE FOR FIVE MINUTES JEEZUZ

Everybody to Everybody Else: so about that war thing and also we should talk about this contest that's a big deal...


LOL. They 100% hammer it at him. Poor Valedan...he has some SERIOUSLY epic moments in book 2. Just you wait...




I'M WAITING


...seriously this book discusses the hell out of everything before anything actually happens. I'm astounded that Jewel and co's Kin-hunting expedition went out as quickly as it did, and ever then we needed two new characters (Devon, Merewhatsisname) intro'd w nearly a chapter each and multiple POV segments and two existential crisis'.

Which brings me to my current level of annoyance w this series... we finally... finally, get to something resembling an action scene and so so much SO MUCH talking, and then it's mostly Kiriel's existantial angst and Jewel's angst at seeing her angst. The actual fight w the demon barely happened and included a lovely chunk of the demon's existantial angst.

Guys... this book is losing me. There are bits i enjoy.... Anton is an interesting character and the revelations they teased out about what happened to his family and how Alesso is playing that, Miriel's background and how she's a major player despite being unable to inherit, and in particular Val and Ramiro's thoughts on her... but Jewel's 'boo hoo i don't want the power i just want to protect my poor little vulnerable friends' storyline is boring me, and Allina's angsting over Val is just repetitious, the Ospreys and the Kalakhar aren't getting nearly enough time (ffs Kiriel separated from them to go angst w Jewel), and everyone's spending so SO MUCH time talking about The Games that i swear if it's not the fucking epic fantasy olympics with Val fighting his way through 99 ninja demons driving Ferraris i'm going to be disappointed. The reader has now been told no less than four times that the Kin are going to take a shot at Val during the marathon. Val's people know it, Miri's people know it, Val knows it, Anton has figured it out THIS IS THE SINGLE WORSE SECRET ASSASSINATION PLOT EVER.

And i can't even skim because West teases out important plot points and revelations in tiny little doses somewhere in the midst of a five page conversation between two characters who have already spoken five times in the book, probably about the *&^*$%*^^^ING Games.


I'm not out yet, there are things here i like, but the drawn out elements are pushing this from pleasure to chore.




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#18 User is offline   QuickTidal 

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Posted 30 May 2023 - 02:15 PM

View PostAbyss, on 30 May 2023 - 02:00 PM, said:

and ever then we needed two new characters (Devon, Merewhatsisname) intro'd w nearly a chapter each and multiple POV segments and two existential crisis'.


Yeah, House War characters. Again I see the benefits of reading. House War first as those are characters you'd know well when they show up in Sun Sword and know their motivations. Makes it more rewarding.

EDIT: Also that's Meralonne....that's chain smoking grumpy Gandalf in the flesh. Show some respect when you use his name MFer!

View PostAbyss, on 30 May 2023 - 02:00 PM, said:

Which brings me to my current level of annoyance w this series... we finally... finally, get to something resembling an action scene and so so much SO MUCH talking, and then it's mostly Kiriel's existantial angst and Jewel's angst at seeing her angst. The actual fight w the demon barely happened and included a lovely chunk of the demon's existantial angst.


Yeah, I feel you. She's learned a lot since she wrote these ones. Her twitter bio says she writes too much. That's true of her early books. Overwritten is a decent accusation.

View PostAbyss, on 30 May 2023 - 02:00 PM, said:

Guys... this book is losing me. ... but Jewel's 'boo hoo i don't want the power i just want to protect my poor little vulnerable friends' storyline is boring me


It's fascinating to me that you're having these issues with it that would be (likely) solved by having read House War first....what Jewel and here Den go through in those 3 books in their various youths is nothing less than a trial by INFERNO...and it makes her stances and reluctance in Sun Sword make perfect sense. Maybe you have to go through that before this would land with you? I dunno. For me seeing Jewel wring her hands over protecting her Den as top priority came at an insane cost that she earned. Shrug. Sorry you're not loving it.

View PostAbyss, on 30 May 2023 - 02:00 PM, said:

, and Allina's angsting over Val is just repetitious, the Ospreys and the Kalakhar aren't getting nearly enough time (ffs Kiriel separated from them to go angst w Jewel), and everyone's spending so SO MUCH time talking about The Games that i swear if it's not the fucking epic fantasy olympics with Val fighting his way through 99 ninja demons driving Ferraris i'm going to be disappointed. The reader has now been told no less than four times that the Kin are going to take a shot at Val during the marathon. Val's people know it, Miri's people know it, Val knows it, Anton has figured it out THIS IS THE SINGLE WORSE SECRET ASSASSINATION PLOT EVER.


I'll say this, the middle of book 2 challenged my patience too, but it rolled over a hill around the midway point and raced to the end. And the Kin are smarter than you think (I'll keep that comment at that as to not spoil anything).

If you choose to bail on Sun Sword, I'd at least recommend trying House War 1 to see if you prefer it....because while I enjoy Sun Sword, the first three House War kicked my ass and I read them one after the other.

This post has been edited by QuickTidal: 30 May 2023 - 02:19 PM

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#19 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 30 May 2023 - 02:52 PM

Your criticism about Jewel is not without merit. And I doubt that having read the first 3 House War books would lessen that. It's obvious that Jewel is West's darling. And as such, everything involving her is always a little overdone. I understand that the author needed to set up the following series, but every section focusing on Jay and her den is basically overdone and overwritten. I guess that if you like Jewel, this is no big deal. But for someone for whom she's far from his favorite protagonist of the series, this can get annoying.

I'm wondering if you'd be less annoyed if you were reading the book instead of listening to it, Abyss. I do recall those conversations about how the kin would try to kill Valedan and all that they encompass. But I figure they didn't bother me much because I could just skim through them. You have to go through every single word and that must be frustrating.

As far as action scenes are concerned, though there are many spread across the series, do not expect balls-to-the-wall action in any shape or form. This simply isn't West's style. Other than the last battle, that is, in which she goes all out.

Unfortunately, I'm almost done with the series and I can say that the Ospreys were not featured as much as I would have liked. Other than Kiriel and Auralis (later on), their scenes, other than those featuring Valedan, are more or less interludes.

But read on, for things pick up and it gets good a lot quicker than it did in The Broken Crown.
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#20 User is offline   QuickTidal 

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Posted 30 May 2023 - 03:09 PM

View Postpat5150, on 30 May 2023 - 02:52 PM, said:

Your criticism about Jewel is not without merit. And I doubt that having read the first 3 House War books would lessen that.


It would. And I'm the only one who's read both so I can say that! LOL

I'm not joking, those books go a long way for Jewel.

View Postpat5150, on 30 May 2023 - 02:52 PM, said:

It's obvious that Jewel is West's darling.


Actually, from what I understand it was the FANS who read Sun Sword and loved Jewel that wanted to see more of her and know more about her, and West obliged. Like she was a fan fave character given a much bigger part to play in the overall series. House War is the answer to that fan favouriting.

View Postpat5150, on 30 May 2023 - 02:52 PM, said:

And as such, everything involving her is always a little overdone. I understand that the author needed to set up the following series, but every section focusing on Jay and her den is basically overdone and overwritten. I guess that if you like Jewel, this is no big deal. But for someone for whom she's far from his favorite protagonist of the series, this can get annoying.


She is inarguably my fave character. I don't see how anyone can't like her. It baffles me. Every time she's "on screen" it's like magic for me.



View Postpat5150, on 30 May 2023 - 02:52 PM, said:

As far as action scenes are concerned, though there are many spread across the series, do not expect balls-to-the-wall action in any shape or form. This simply isn't West's style.


Indeed. Someone once said "West's character attention makes Robin Hobb's Farseer books look plot-driven"...and yeah that's true.

This post has been edited by QuickTidal: 30 May 2023 - 03:09 PM

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