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Note- slight spoiler alert - in the last paragraph.
I really struggled with how to score this book. I just felt so neutral about it (hence the "Bland" headline for my review). Was it me being easily distracted? Was my listening interrupted too frequently that I never really got into it? Have I been overly spoiled by a previous Sanderson listen? To check I wasn’t being too harsh, I had a quick read of other reviews…. and relief, I’m not going insane or becoming overly picky.
Overall, I gave it 3/5, partly out of respect for the first book, which I really did enjoy. The second book lost it a little, but there was a promise of more to come. This third book has left me feeling flat.
I still like the idea of the story and the “magic”, but the execution felt muddled. Yes, the story continues, but there are so many new characters and so many more random threads, that it all just feels a little disjointed. It's completely lost the excitement and anticipation of book one. Unfortunately, the narration does nothing to help improve this sense. There is absolutely no character differentiation, and despite concentrating and re-listening to certain paragraphs, there was still doubt as to who actually said or did what. Also, either I've got wool in my ears, or some of the character names are so similar sounding as to seem the same person......adding to my confusion of who was where and who did what - maybe I wasn't concentrating properly? Unfortunately, the narration completely detracted from my overall enjoyment of the book. And, as an aside, I find it really annoying when characters (even armies) can be at opposite ends of the world, yet spin their horses around and apparently cross from the Arctic to the Sahara (or equivalent) in a couple of days....naturally turning up on time at the requisite location to help save the day. That's just too convenient.
Bottom line – try reading this one rather than listening to it. You may enjoy the written word more than the spoken one.
As for the ending? Again, I was left feeling completely flat about it; neither neatly tied up, nor with sufficient loose threads to keep me guessing or interested. It was almost a relief to have it end. My final thoughts of what should have been a great series were “so the boy doesn’t get the girl and the cat died”. Hardly a great sense of closure.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
Character and plot development in this third book are very weak. Gone is the excellent narrative style of the Blood Song and instead we are given a disjointed (possibly boring) POV driven story from characters that we no longer care about. The development of the main character is very disappointing - in effect he is sidelined.
Would you ever listen to anything by Anthony Ryan again?
Yes - but I wouldn't pay for it.
Did Steven Brand do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?
No. Brands narrative style does not pair well with the POV format used in this book. In his defence this is just not very well written to begin with and is confusing in the text version.
What character would you cut from Queen of Fire?
Several. Changing style and focus means that many characters have lost direction, and the badly done POV format makes listening a frustrating experience,
Any additional comments?
If you loved blood song (and to a degree Tower Lord) then I would very much caution you in respect to buying this. I struggle to understand how this could be the same author and this actually upsets me as Blood song was so very good. Ryan appears to have lost his way, either through not knowing where to take his characters (maybe feeling that one in particular was over powered) or a desire to partake in some world building, or possibly some mis guided input from the publisher. Take rave reviews on this and the physical copy with a pinch of salt.
This all being said just my opinion and a I hope other listeners can find something in this where I did not.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Started strong in the first book with good character development but proceeds to introduce so many new one dimensional characters with the same personality, that I couldn't keep track of them. If I have to listen to one more long, tiresome, drawn out description of a battle...
the narrator was great. the story epic, grim but satisfying for those with a taste for vengeance.