Despite being on holiday for most of this week in sunny Bruges, I still managed to get through 3 books! Although I didn’t have as much time during the day to read I did have plenty of time while traveling on the various trains. The Eurostar is fabulous. Bruges was amazingly stunning, it is full of cobbled streets, breath-taking architecture and lovely, kind people. Oh and hundreds of chocolate shops, I even out-chocolated myself which I’d always thought an impossibility. I highly recommend it if you’re inclined to pretty medieval tourist spots. I could totally imagine princesses, knights and dragons roaming the streets. Anyway, onto les livres!
I mentioned last week that I’d started Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia series and I flew through the first two Silent in the Grave and Silent in the Sanctuary this week. They were okay – nowhere near as much fun as Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series which is a shame. The pacing was super slow without any real need, it took too long for the plot threads to weave together and nothing really happened to necessitate such a slow pace. No in-depth character development or anything like that. Julia herself is a bit frustrating. She’s caught between wanting to be a proper young lady and following in her ‘mad’ family’s footsteps. She isn’t as feisty as Veronica and I find her to be inconsistent. Sometimes she’s constantly second-guessing herself and filled with doubt and other times she’s applauding herself on being overly forward in ignoring the wishes of others. Sometimes all her internal monologues just make following her boring. It doesn’t make for an endearing protagonist. The only character I’m particularly interested in is Nicholas Brisbane, the love interest. But I’m not sure I can bring myself to read more of these stories just to see these two finally admit their feelings – the plots just haven’t been intriguing enough.
The third book I finished was Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley Beaulieu. I am pleased to say this was a great read. I adored Twelve Kings (check my review out here) and couldn’t wait to get stuck into this. I always worry with a sequel that the first few chapters will be dull while the author rehashes what happened previously and then try and get us reacquainted with the characters. Luckily, Beaulieu did nothing of the sort here. We dove straight back into the action following Ceda as she tries to kill the Kings of Sharakai. I won’t discuss the plot for fear of spoilers but I found the pacing to be perfect, there were no lulls in the action or character development. Every chapter was relevant and each point of view character brought a fresh and necessary perspective on the proceedings. There were some great revelations that I hadn’t seen coming and slowly more loose threads came together to form a bigger picture. I must admit that I hadn’t been piecing things together as I sometimes do when reading epic fantasy as I was too caught up in following the story so it was a pleasant surprise when it all slotted into position for me. I found that to be a good thing as it meant I was enjoying it too much to stop and ponder all the subtle hints dropped in as the novel progressed, but I definitely think I’ll pick up a lot more on a reread which is always good to know.
The character development was excellent in this book too. They all just keep growing! I’ve grown to like Emre a lot more and I enjoyed the extra point of view from Davud. I’m interested to see where his path leads but Ceda and Ramahd are still my favourites. Ramahd’s narrative in particular took turns I never expected, some pleasant, some not so! I love that I have no idea where these characters are going to end up, their actions, attitudes and behaviours are so realistic it’s just wonderful watching it all unfold. I wish I could read this series forever, I’m gutted I have to wait a month for the third book to come out – what am I going to be like once I finish that one and have to wait a whole year?!?
Looking forward, I’m not sure what to pick up next. I’m thinking either Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft, The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden, Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch or Kushiel’s Dart by Jaqueline Carey. Decisions, decisions!