This review covers the first three books in the series (The Steel Queen, The Flame Priest and The Skeleton King). According to the official website (www.karenlazinger.com), there will be seven books in the series. The first six books have already been released. When I complete the rest of the series, I will do a wrap up review of those books as a group.
This series so far has many of the fantasy tropes that we are familiar with- young teenage protagonist who discovers she is the chosen one, her traveling companions made up of a warrior, monk/magician, beast master, etc. You can also see the author’s influences in the story- she’s clearly read some George RR Martin, Tolkien, and maybe some Robert Jordan. These influences include the shifting viewpoints for each chapter (not unique to any one author, really), the original group getting split up, and also the main “big bad’, who is similar to Rand al’ Thor, the main character in the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. More on that in minute.
To me at least, none of this makes the story bad or lack originality, its just that unlike other books I have read with these same tropes, it is very obvious. Or, that may just be me being able to recognize those influences much more now than I have in the past. If the story is well though out and paced, then that works for me. Every book does not have to bring a new innovation in story telling.
The plot boils down to the chosen one, Kath, chasing down the “big bad” (the Mordant) to stop him from conquering the world. The Mordant reminds me of the dragon reborn concept in the Wheel of Time, where the dragon reborn character (no spoilers!) has another person/consiousness in his head. Although here, the relationship between those two entities is much closer to full on possession. There are different storylines in the series, with the action taking place in different parts of the world. I find the storylines involving the Queen of Lanverness and the royal “J’s” to be more entertaining than the main storyline involving Kath. Kath suffers a little bit from being a character who does everything perfectly. Kath isn’t entirely special, but she seems to be good at quite a few things, even when she probably shouldn’t be. This may be changing a bit, judging by the end of the third book (The Skeleton King). It can get to be a bit tiresome, but since the view points shift with each character, it doesn’t become overwhelmingly aggravating. I am willing to see if this changes in the later books.
I found the overall story entertaining, but it has not kept me on the edge of my seat, wanting more. Usually with a series, I read all the books that are out in rapid succession. With this series it was several months between books. I would usually pickup something else first. These books have become my fallback in a way- I know I can always read them if I can’t find anything else. They are reliable- I know I will get a good story that will keep my interest for a time. I do want to know how it ends, so hopefully I will be able to find to find out by the end of the year. The seventh and final book, The Battle Immortal, is scheduled to be released later this year.