This trilogy, to sum up, is worth it. It’s a bit of a slow burn in the first book as Arden really sets her stage, with amazingly detailed descriptions of what life was like in medieval Russia, but I think all that set-up is more than worth it for the end product, which was a coming of age adventure about a girl who doesn’t want to be put in a cage, any kind of cage, coming into fantastical powers in a time that was dangerous for even just your average woman. The villains were fantastic (especially as the Bear is revisited in this book), the historical detail was so interesting (I don’t know much about Russia, actually) and really grounded the story in such a nice way. Most of the main characters in this book were real people, and the real battle that is the climax really, actually happened. I wish I knew more about the real historical figures and circumstances so I could see how Arden played around with them more clearly.
I think I might hate Father Konstantin more than I’ve ever hated any villain in a book; even more than Dolores Umbridge. He did something here that made me SO UPSET I had to put the book down for two days. I think it’s a measure of the author’s skill that I didn’t blame her, or abandon the book. The terrible thing had a narrative purpose. But seriously, fuck that guy.
I think I might have to buy this series for an eventual re-read, and I am mostly definitely in for whatever else Katherine Arden wants to write.