SOUTHERN SUN, NORTHERN STAR

From the Glass Alliance series , Vol. 3

The conclusion to an ambitious series of diminishing rewards.

Once again the story flips between first-person narratives from Ali, formerly an Etanian princess and now a revolutionary fighting for nonmonarchical rule in her mother’s home country (while her brother continues to rule at home), and Athan, her star-crossed lover and third son of a Savient general who once fought against monarchy and now simply fights. The all-encompassing war and the technology evoke World War II, but here everyone is in the wrong, and the final outcome seems to leave most countries where they started—with added bomb damage and casualty lists. More than halfway through this doorstopper, the tantalizing showdown seen in the prologue of the first novel finally comes to pass, but it’s taken so long that readers might not even realize they’ve seen this scene before. Endless cycles of victory and defeat, populated by stock characters (who exist primarily to further the story) and often unlikable protagonists, all bitterly engaged in conflicts fueled by generations-old grudge matches: This should at least amount to an extended allegory about the emptiness and futility of war, but the whole is so cluttered with overwritten descriptions and overly focused on a not-very-compelling love story that it’s hard to see the possible forest for the many trees. Characters have a range of skin tones.

Disappointing. (map) (Military fantasy. 13-adult)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7653-9647-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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A wild ride both fantastical and grounded in nuance.

RULE OF WOLVES

From the King of Scars Duology series , Vol. 2

Following King of Scars (2019), the world’s a powder keg of political hostilities and existential threats.

In a juggling act between viewpoint characters, readers follow far-ranging intrigues inside countries, between countries, and between individuals. King Nikolai faces imminent threats from Fjerda, rumors of his bastardy that threaten to dethrone him, complicated trade relations with both Zemeni and Kerch, and an engagement to Princess Ehri of Shu Han—despite her sister, Queen Makhi, having schemed to kill both of them. Zoya, Nikolai’s loyal general, is handed a series of nigh-impossible assignments, including some having to do with the Darkling. Meanwhile, deeply embedded Nina spies on Fjerda, working to undermine the rumors surrounding Nikolai’s parentage, uncover Fjerda’s military plans, manipulate their royals toward a more peaceful path, and secretly sway the population’s view of Grisha. And all over the world, a mysterious blight suddenly appears, destroying everything in its path. Sprinklings of recaps and lots of action help to prevent the massively intricate world from becoming overwhelming. Battles in particular shine, not just for their action, but for the questions they pose about the direction of warfare in an arms race. The multiethnic cast that includes queer characters and relationships showcases a White-passing biracial character grappling with identity and another character’s trans-coded journey. A big finish manages to tidy up almost all ends but still leaves space for more to come.

A wild ride both fantastical and grounded in nuance. (Orders of Grisha guide, map) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-14230-6

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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