The Fifth Ward: Good Company was kind of hit or miss for me. I totally saw Rem’s big personal reveal coming a mile away, and a lot of the other characters’ reaction to it were not surprising either. Of course Indilen and Torval are going to accept it; on the one hand, I’m glad there wasn’t a lot of unnecessary drama there, but on the other, there was so little reaction it’s like all that time trying to build it up was wasted.
The set up for the main plot had a lot of promise: Rem and Torval sort of accidentally capture a major “Most Wanted” Robin Hood-type known as The Raven, and have to accompany him back to his home area to which he gets extradited in order to collect the bounty on his head. The Raven is an interesting character who only gets more complex as the story goes on. The one thing I didn’t like about this part of the story is how he turns out, as in his massive personality weakness or tragic flaw if you prefer. The other part of the journey is that it’s not just the two Watchwardens and the officials from Erald; also along for the trip is the Lady Tzimena and her guards who are going to the same place to deliver her to be married to a local lord. And surprise, surprise, the two missions end up being a lot more intertwined that first presented.
Once all the set up is complete, the story really dragged for a while, to the point where I actually put the book down for a while. It was a lot of sniping at each other and vague insinuations about things, and it got old, especially when there was so much more that could have been done than just walking tensely through a dangerous forest area. But then the story picked back up when Rem accidentally walks in on an orc during a private moment. They both walk away kind of pretending neither saw the other, but orcs are supposed to be very dangerous and naturally everyone else Rem is with gets worried. Rem then gets separated from the group and gets caught by another local group of creatures who want to make him into their dinner; the one who can sort of communicate calls him “supper” and the conversation is actually kind of interesting.
In the ensuing confusion which includes a good bit of fighting, the various threads are untangled. Rem gets rescued, gets back to his companions, and they all figure out who the real good and bad guys are and were. The parts about The Rave and Lady Tzimena get a little too melodramatic, and I liked the part about realizing that certain monsters weren’t all monstrous better anyways because it was more interesting. Once Rem and Torval get back home, it’s less about their jobs and more about setting up new things for their personal lives. Not that this is bad, it’s just that the more entertaining parts of the story are definitely when the two are doing their jobs and with their colleagues. There just wasn’t a lot of the colleagues this time around.