Hadrian and Royce are back...in time! No, they didn't time travel. This is fantasy-lite, not sci-fi-lite. ;) But this prequel goes back to when they first met and follows them on their first adventure together, when they were just as much a threat to each other as the enemies chasing them.
I was hoping that jumping to the prequel would show an improvement in story structure and writing, and that bet paid off. This was much better paced, with a stronger sense of the main characters' POVs and not so obvious twists. I was especially interested in how Hadrian and Royce went from not trusting each other to becoming the BFFs we saw in Theft of Swords. This is just the beginning - there are twelve years between the starts of these two series - but it's a promising beginning. We also spend time seeing how Gwen gets started in Medford.
I would still like to see more fantasy in this supposed fantasy series, instead of the sprinkles we get here and there. But as a fun, easygoing romp, this series hits the spot.