I listened to the audiobook of this series, narrated by Derek Perkins, who did a fabulous job. He’s definitely going on my “favorite narrators” list.
The first book of this fantasy trilogy was really fun. A young thief on the street is plucked up and sent to an exclusive academy, where he—of course—discovers he has special powers. Those powers, along with hard work (unusual in these stories), allow him to become an excellent swordsman. From then on, he was super-human in sword fights, which weren’t really a challenge.
However, by the second volume, the amount of killing, betraying, and testosterone-juggling man-talk is pretty overwhelming. I think I nodded off a few times, but it didn’t make any difference in the long run. Basically, I think the series could have been much shorter and still as entertaining.
• Lots of bad men killing each other (or trying to)
• Some magic, not well explained
• Tons of political intrigue between countries (yawn)
• Interesting (if predictable) sword fights
• Huge body count, assisted by questionable morals
• Few characters have any redeeming qualities
Speaking of characters, there are VERY few women even mentioned in this story, and most of them are “whores.” Even the main squeeze was a prostitute for a while. The main character, Soren, grew in knowledge and experience, but his personality wasn’t fully explored. I would have had more empathy for him if he hadn’t been so ruthless.
By the time the drawn-out conclusion finally begins, the political maneuvering was getting very old. I couldn’t keep the main players in the plot straight in my mind, which is usually a result of listening instead of reading. The conclusion was satisfactory, if over quickly and—again—predictable.
Lots of violence, some foul language, some sexual references but nothing graphic.