Top critical review
Overhyped, but not bad.
Reviewed in the United States on June 28, 2018
This is now the second book I’ve read recently that I’ve considered overhyped. From what I’ve heard it’s another retelling of Eastern Europe folklore, similar to The Bear and the Nightingale, so I guess I can’t really say anything about how the story unfolds as a standard unexpected chosen one tale.
What I will freely bash instead is Sarkan, as in he’s an irritable prick throughout the story and doesn’t get much better by the end. I’ve seen people say in reviews that they ended up liking him, but even as a fellow misanthrope, I just couldn’t relate. At one point, the MC makes contact with him from a great distance away, something that was unheard of in the book world, and his response was to be annoyed. Lovely.
I don’t even mind the rather graphic sex scene towards the end section, a refreshing take on fantasy sexuality (instead of the typical fade to black, or full on lack of it Sanderson style). But I just don’t understand what the MC sees in him. He’s even close to irritable during that, FFS.
The relationship is almost creepy in a Stockholm syndrome way. I genuinely feel like the book would have been better without him at all, similar to how it ended with the MC tending to the sick heart trees; that section was good, and then Sarkan shows up at the end to dispense more boring irritability.
All in all, I’ve decided to start doing more research into what well-reviewed books are based on, because apparently retold Eastern European tales aren’t my cup of tea. Or maybe I’ve missed the point entirely, who knows. Onward to a new book.