I finally decided to pick up The Demon King and read, as it's been on my to read list for a while now, and maybe the mood was right, but I really, really enjoyed it. And when I finished it, in like 6 hours, I decided to read the rest of the series. So I finished all of them this week. I have not had a good reading spree in a while....it was fun, and really got my reading groove back. I'm back on track for my reading goal this year.
This series has really two main characters. Han and Raisa. Han is an ex street lord from the slums trying to go straight, and Raisa is the heir to the Gray Wolf Throne and next Queen of The Fells. And fate sets of a chain of events that makes sure they cross paths. Han finds out he is way more than a street kid from Ragmarket (of course)and Raisa learns what she is made off. You basically follow the coming of age journey of these two characters. They go from kids to adults through all four books.
What I liked: The characters. The characters. The characters. I would say they held everything together. If I did not like Han or Raisa or all the secondary characters that pepper these books, then it would not have worked all. You get pulled in by the characters right away, and you care what happen to them and want them to succeed. And that is what keeps you reading each book. It's what kept me jumping from book to book. You're invested, so the issues with the story kinda of become secondary because you want Han to succeed and to finally get justice. You want Raisa to win and defeat her enemies. Han and his group of friends are surrounded by all kinds of peril and drama and intrigue. They spend a lot of time traveling all over the land being chased, kidnapped, beaten, plotted against and kissed by various love interests. I liked that the characters were not all Goody-goody and pure, no character is all good, or all bad, well except maybe one. But good guys do bad things, and sometimes the bad guys surprise you with some good. That is very realistic. Everyone has a reason for what they do, even if you don't agree with their methods.
I loved the diversity. One of the large players in this book are the Clan, which seem to be modeled on Native Americans. And Raisa is a half-blood,with her father and grandmother being Clan. Half the characters are POC in some way or other, and that is always refreshing. Fantasy still seems to be stuck in a medieval European box a lot of the time and I enjoy every time I get a break from that. More!
The bad: Here is what I didn't like...but the rest of it kept me there. Han could sometimes be a bit of a "Mary Sue" (most main characters are to some extent). But especially in the first two books. He is always one step of everyone, and always comes out on top and wins no matter how crazy the odds.That can be a bit boring after a while. Sometimes you need to raise the stakes and put your character in a position where all seems hopeless and make them really work for it or maybe they need saving for one (you can also go a bit too much the other end. A good balance is needed). Sometimes things were just to easy for Han.
Also, I feel like towards the end some of the plot points fell to the wayside. Like it was built up or hinted at, but nothing came of it. Like, the writer was going to go one way, but changed last minute. Also some of the ending results of the stories were "too easy" like....if one character spends all 4 book saying one thing, one conversation in the last chapter of the last book is not going to change them that fast. I want to believe it. Show me the journey. So some of the ends were just too pat.
But over all I loved this series, and did not feel like it was a week wasted. I might even pick up the next series set in the world...but generations later. I am interested to learn how things changed or stayed the same. As they Crow says in the books...the Winners write history.