I have this thing with assassin stories. I love them. One of the things that drew me to this book was the promise of a girl with a special power to kill. Sign me up any day for a female main character who can kick some major ass.
The opening scene pulled me in immediately. Katsa is sneaking around in the dark, roundhouse-kicking guards to the ground, and rescuing a prisoner. Soon after, we meet Po, a mysterious boy with a fighting Grace who lets Katsa beat up on him for fun. I instantly loved both of these characters and the world they inhabited.
In Katsa’s country, her Grace is looked down upon. She is frequently shunned or feared, and her uncle, the king, manipulates and uses her to his advantage by sending her off to settle his quarrels. She’s his muscle – a thug he dispatches to get his way.
Po is a Lienid prince from across the sea, whose country doesn’t see Graces as bad things. He challenges and encourages Katsa to get over her shame and embrace her Grace. As they grow closer, Katsa learns the truth about Po’s Grace, and they both have to learn to trust each other in order to successfully reach their goals. I loved the growth of their relationship over the course of the book.
I know there have been complaints about Katsa as uber-feminist. I didn’t mind her commitment to stay unmarried, because it felt truthful to her character and experiences. I did feel that this point was beaten over our heads a few too many times, however. I also felt sorry for Katsa, because she had this concept of marriage as a loss of identity that was never reinforced by the world. I wasn’t sure if this was Katsa’s perspective that evolved from her own fears, or whether it was truly the way marriage worked in her society. Did child-free couples exist? Were there women who still had freedom and independence within their marriages, if not in Middlun then in Lienid? It was hard to know whether to root for Katsa and Po to end up together.
The plot of the book revolves around the prisoner Katsa rescues in the opening scene – he is Po’s grandfather, and they are trying to figure out why he has been kidnapped. Katsa and Po set off to travel through the country and glean what information they can, and eventually they turn to the southeastern country of Monsea and the strange behavior happening there.
Unfortunately, it was at this point the book lost some of its luster for me. Questing is usually one of my favorite story elements, but here it turned more Harry Potter than Lord of the Rings. First, Katsa and Po tromp through the woods finding information. Then they tromp through woods and mountains getting to Monsea. Then they tromp through more mountains trying to get out of Monsea. Then Katsa crosses the mountains, and a sea, trying to escape and plan her next move. But she doesn’t get to plan her next move, because the plot just comes to her. It felt like a lot of unnecessary walking/riding/sailing that didn’t accomplish much.
This was an enjoyable read, and I definitely recommend it to fantasy readers. I’m anxious to spend more time in the Seven Realms and explore other characters and Graces, so I’ll continue with the trilogy.
Rating: 3/5 stars
I read the first three books in this classic children’s series last week, both for Bout of Books 6.0 and my book club meeting over the weekend. It was refreshing to visit some books that people treasure from their childhood (I hadn’t read them before). I’ve been so caught up in reading the latest new releases that I was neglecting the classics!
This first book was so much fun. The Drew kids are sucked into a mystery while on vacation in Cornwall, England – searching for the grail of King Arthur! Does it get any cooler than that? I loved the battle of these three kids against several shady adults from the Dark trying to get their greedy hands on the grail, which will tell them how to defeat the rising of ancient and perceived lost King Arthur.
Helping them along the way is their great-uncle Merriman Lyon, who functions in a mentor type role. He guides them and encourages them as they discover a secret map and go in search of the deciphering tricks that will help them interpret it to find the treasure. The action ramps up nicely, leading to a final showdown that truly delivers and leaves us with plenty to look forward to in the sequels.
Rating: 4/5 stars
The second book in the series is a marked departure from the first one. With the exception of Merriman Lyon, there are no common characters, and even takes place in a different town (and later, magical world). Given how much I loved the Drew kids in the first book, this was a bit disappointing.
This book I found to be confusing, with many jumps through time that left me uncertain from paragraph to paragraph where we were at any given moment. Will is on a quest to find six magical medallions, and he has to move through time and space to get them, often without requiring a whole lot of foresight or planning. Instead, he seems to just stumble upon them in overly convenient ways. There wasn’t a lot of tension as a result, since we just assume that the next part of the plot will deal with him getting the next medallion, and that he will do so with some ease.
The good thing to note is that the first two books do not need to be read in order, since they are so different, but they both provide vital plot elements for the third book so must be read before moving on in the series. The other good thing is that the third book was much more entertaining than this one.
Rating: 2/5 stars
The third book in the series combines the Drew children with Will Stanton, and they are tasked to return to Cornwall to retrieve the scroll lost in book one and the grail that has newly been stolen by the Dark forces. I was very happy to see the Drew kids back in the story, as they are light, comical characters that are a joy to read.
This book zips along in pace, and is the shortest of these three books at only 144 pages. The kids are again battling the Dark, trying to uncover the mystery of who stole the grail, where it went, and how they can get back the scroll that disappeared into the sea the last time they were in town. The magic of the second book comes alive in this book, with eerie scenes playing out in the streets and lots of mysterious interactions with undersea creatures and the strange Greenwitch.
I absolutely intend to finish the last two books in this series, as overall it was a lot of fun to read. Though I found Will boring, the Drew kids are so cute and clever! I want to see where the grail takes them next and whether the Light can succeed in bringing King Arthur back to life.
Rating: 4/5 stars
I have more series books than I know what to do with, and I’m hoping this challenge will motivate me to cross some of them off my never-ending series TBR list. And did you see the hosts? More Amanda and Kelly is always what I’m after.Â
The Seriously Series Reading Challenge is hosted by Amanda atÂ On a Book BenderÂ and Kelly atÂ Reading the Paranormal. The goal is to finish series – and they leave a little wiggle room in the interpretation of how you do that. I’m going to be using this as an opportunity to read all of the series books I already own. In other words, I’m going to mark a series as complete when I’ve finished reading the last book in the series I own, regardless of whether or not there are other remaining books in the series.
The challenge has four levels across three categories. I’m starting with the base level,Â Semi-Serious (1-6 series),Â in both the series started before 2013 and the series started during 2013 categories, and I’ll increase as needed. Most of my starting list hasn’t even begun to tackle the goodies hiding in my Kindle, so this should be interesting.
My list so far:
Series started before 2013:
- GoliathÂ (Leviathan #3) by Scott Westerfeld
- River MarkedÂ (Mercy Thompson #6) by Patricia Briggs
- Bloodline (Sigma Force #8) by James Rollins
- An Echo in the BoneÂ (Outlander #7) by Diana Gabaldon
- Dead as a DoornailÂ (Sookie Stackhouse #5) by Charlaine Harris
- AscendantÂ (Killer Unicorns #2) by Diana Peterfreund
Series started during 2013:
- The GreyfriarÂ (Vampire Empire #1) by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
- Clockwork Angel,Â Clockwork PrinceÂ (Infernal Devices #1-2) by Cassandra Clare
- Halfway to the GraveÂ (Night Huntress #1) by Jeaniene Frost
- Darkfever,Â Bloodfever,Â Faefever,Â DreamfeverÂ (Fever #1-4) by Karen Marie Moning
- Fantasy Lover,Â Night Pleasures,Â Night Embrace,Â Dance with the DevilÂ (Dark-Hunter #1-4) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
- Under Wraps,Â Under AttackÂ (Underworld Detection Agency #1-2) by Hannah Jayne
Check my progress all year on the sidebar or on my 2013 Challenge Index.