This review has given me real trouble. I LOVED the first book, liked the second quite a bit, and trusted that Abercrombie would give me whatever I needed to love this one, too. In a weird way that I still don’t understand, this third book in his Shattered Sea trilogy has not managed to meet my expectations, even though I’m not sure I had expectations to meet, beyond that I wanted to love it. I’m sort of devastated that it didn’t work for me.
While reading, my blood pressure skyrocketed from the stress of disliking the book, and even now, it’s threatening to start doing it again, and all I’m doing is vaguely thinking about when I was reading the book. I know it will immediately get worse as soon as I start trying to parse out specifics of why it didn’t work for me, and why I’m so sad.
. . .
Excuse me. Those ellipses represent the fifteen minutes during which I had to take a time-out to calm down because my brain has decided to freak out when thinking about this book. Forcing self to take deep breaths.
I don’t think I’ve ever had this weird of a reaction to a book before, and I don’t like it!
Three Days Later
For reals I went to articulate my reasons, brain froze, I closed the computer and then didn’t come back to this review for three days WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME.
Okay, let’s just list it out real fast, maybe that will work:
- One of the reasons I loved the first book so much is that I loved the protagonist, Yarvi, and the book had a clear cut front to back structure that played around with traditional fantasy and YA. Everything about that book was magic for me.
- The second book was not magic, largely because I only liked the two protagonists, Thorn and Brand. Also, splitting up the narrative focus like that I think split up my emotions as well. I missed Yarvis’ POV.
- This book . . . had all of those problems magnified. Not one, not two POV characters. THREE POV characters. Normally I have zero problems with multiple POV characters! The more the merrier! Which is one of the reasons it’s killing me that I’m listing this as a flaw.
- And the three POV characters in this weren’t Brand or Thorn or Yarvi, but three NEW little dipshits I had to learn to love. I was exhausted I think before I even started. And I felt even further away from Yarvi and Nothing who had anchored the first book for me.
- Also . . . at some point, the things the characters were thinking and learning about war and the world and morality just started to feel predictable and horrible. Like re-treads of things Abercrombie had already covered in his other books. War sucks. People are shit. The world corrupts good people. Except, and this is something I’ve seen people point to as a positive in this book, whereas normally in Abercrombie’s stories the world-weary amoral jerks are working their way back to being moral, in this one it’s the opposite. Everyone is in the middle of losing their humanity, and it was just too stressful for me to like.
- I didn’t really like any of the three new characters. I know I already mostly said this, but it bears repeating. I sort of liked the girl, whose name is Skara I think? And the only reason I remember that is because it’s the same as a character from Stargate. Raith’s chapters were so hard to get through. At the end when everything had played out, I could see what Abercrombie had been going for, but by then I just didn’t care.
- I hated, absolutely HATED that the theory some people had about the world/the elves in this series was actually true. I hated it back when it was just a theory, and I hate it even more now that it’s confirmed. It’s been done before, and didn’t really add anything to the story for me. I’m going to do my best to pretend it never happened.
- I literally can’t remember the third POV character’s name right now. He was Yarvi adjacent. It just made me want Yarvi’s POV, and I felt that the only reason we didn’t is so that Abercrombie could pull some things out of left field on us that he couldn’t have otherwise if we’d have been in Yarvi’s head.
- Something about identity? I don’t know. I’m all cranky and mad now.
This book probably deserves a better review, but honestly I’m not capable of it right now. Perhaps when I eventually re-read the series I will have a different reaction to it and be able to write something better, but for now, this incoherent rambling will have to suffice.