This book is problematic for me. I feel like I should love it. On paper, this book has everything I want in a novel.
* Novel fantasy setting? Check!
* Novel magic system? Check!
* Compelling political situations? Check!
* Likable main character? Check!
* Likable supporting characters? Check!
* Well-written by one of my favorite fantasy authors? Check and check!
And on and on. There’s no reason for me to not love this book. And, indeed I devoured the first third of it. And then my reading pace sort of fell off a cliff and it took me three months to actually finish the thing. And as I’ve been reading it (or not reading it, I guess), I’ve given some thought to the question: “Why?” I wondered. “What’s falling flat?”.
And I finally figured it out: the plot of this book is driven by really unfair things happening to the main character. His entire life is basically his being shoved from one unfortunate situation to another where people with power are screwing with him for his own purposes.
And you know what? That’s fine. That’s basically how life is, right? It’s perfectly acceptable, no it’s perfectly *good* for a book to have the verisimilitude of life being awful. Because life *is* awful and literature, at its best, (especially SF/F literature) paints a picture of the world as it is.
But me? I like escapism. Life *is* awful and I don’t need more of it when I sit down to read. So I like my books to have a bit more justice in them.
This undoubtedly says more about me than it does about the book which, as I note, was well-written and has many compelling attributes. And I’ve already bought the next two books in the series and will absolutely be reading them.