Top critical review
For What's There is Excellent, But. . .
Reviewed in the United States on November 19, 2020
I followed Mags as a teen, his adventures, and his early love of his wife, Amily. In this third book on their children, the focus is on Tory. He, like his siblings, isn't in love with anyone yet. He is a typical teen and has a lifelong friend in Kyril / Kee. If the book blurb is right, he is only fourteen. Honest, I thought he was at least seventeen to nineteen. Yet the story doesn't focus much on ages. Just birth order. But for Kee to be adult enough to leave everything he knew - His family, life, and friends. That's huge. It takes maturity. A thirteen year old doesn't have that, especially not a prince, not the way he was sheltered.
I will note that Sira is a Sleepgiver assassin. She kills without remourse in order to survive and protect her family. But like Tory, I had a hard time justifying killing for money -- And it's done with planning, front and center, not second hand. That's a trigger warning for those that want to know.
The story unwinds as Kee and Tory assist Ahkhan in locating a lost sibling. We learn about the Sleepgiver world and more on Karse. The journey was scenic, believable, and informative. This isn't an action adventure or even a young adult, not with all those hard core killings. It's a nice easy paced world building journey involving three young boys,
Now Kee and Tory were childhood best friends, so close they shared an ability. They grew up in each other's pockets. Partners in crimes, two peas in a pod. When life gets in the way and they go on different paths, I expect a conversation. At least a hug. Words about staying in touch, come visit, you know the standard parting? But no, we don't get any of that. Kee had that with his parents but he doesn't extend the same courtesy to his lifelong friend and confidant. It's no wonder Tory felt lost, I did, too. The resulting bonding was too rushed, -- And it was just odd. It came across as Elissa was a substitute for Kee, with what she said and her own enhancement. Like a rebound lover.
Maybe in the future Tory will do circuit rides and visit his friend and extended family. I feel like that should've happened in this story, to know these two, young men that can finish each others sentences, will still be in touch. I felt cheated.
It's hard to read about these children: Perry, Abi, and Tory, and not see some conclusion in their lives to where they mature and settle down. We're left with them still learning about their gifts and their place in the world. If Tory is only fourteen, he has years of schooling ahead of him, hasn't reached his maturity, and has a long ways to go. I wouldn't exactly call this a coming of age story. More like a step in time with set backs. This story needs a better conclusion, if this is to be the only story on Tory's life. For that price I expected more. - Dan's Wife
Footnote: I have to add. .. This series is tagged as children learning to be the next spy for the king. All that expectation over the whole series and then a one liner by Mags, in effect -- It takes being chosen to be a spy. It's like a back handed slap. Perry can do all he can but would never be the spymaster because he isn't chosen? What?