Mini Reviews: Fantasy Novels with Female Heroines

Hello, everyone! I have more mini reviews for you. All of these novels were interesting in their individual ways and really deserve their own reviews, however, as I read them whilst trying to complete university, I never got around to chatting about them with you! Because it’s now been a while and my memory has gotten a little foggy (but I don’t want to ignore these novels completely), I thought mini reviews were the best solution. 🙂

Overall Impression: An engrossing adventure through a sophisticated, supernatural, criminal underworld.

The Mine Order by Samantha ShannonFirst off I would like to say that I cannot recommend this series enough! It’s brilliantly original, has a completely immersive world and Shannon’s writing is compelling. The Mime Order is book two in the dystopian series, The Bone Season, which follows Paige Mahoney, a dreamwalker able to manipulate spirits. It picks up where the first story left off, with Paige and other captives fleeing from their otherworldly prison Sheol 1, where they were treated like slaves by the Rephaites. They all go into hiding, seeking salvation where they can. But Paige soon finds herself on her government’s most wanted list, and is forced to go underground and rely on her old Mime Lord, Jaxon, and his numerous connections in the criminal underworld. However, she soon realises she’s trading one prison for another.

I really enjoyed this novel, almost as much as the first book, and it was definitely easier to get into because I knew all Shannon’s confusing terminology this time around! I loved that the majority of this novel took place in, around and under London and its criminal underworld. It made for a more interesting setting than the previous book’s prison camp, because of its parallels with real life (I thought it was brilliant that the highest clairvoyant population was in Camden, LOL, figures!). We get to learn much more about the criminal syndicate’s hierarchy, and the tension, suspicion and power play that goes on between each leader’s turf, and we watch our heroine, Paige, get caught up in the middle of it.

The Mime Order really has two key aspects to its plot, the first is a central mystery concerning who killed one of the crime syndicate leaders and the question of who will take his place in power, the second is Paige’s struggle to find a way to tell the world about the Rephaites and their slave network. I enjoyed both aspects, and it was fun seeing Paige grow as a character, her resourcefulness and ever growing frustration with her world’s systems. Jaxon was also a compelling character, his striking personality had endless layers to uncover.

The Mime Order did have slight pacing issues, it dragged in places, especially towards the end, but luckily it redeems itself with a kick-ass ending and whoa, what a cliffhanger! My main complaint about this book would be the lack of Warden’s character. He was such an integral part of The Bone Season and I loved his interactions with Paige, I hope we’ll see more of him in book 3!

Overall, The Mime Order was an awesome read that I would highly recommend. It’s a series that manages to feel fresh and unique in a publishing era full of dystopian fiction!

Writing Style: 5/5 // Originality: 5/5 // Entertainment: 4/5 // Character Development: 4/5 //Would I recommend this book? Yes!
Overall: 4/5

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Overall Impression: A yawn fest with annoying characters and little originality that completely baffled me.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J MaasEvery time I think about Throne of Glass I get annoyed. Annoyed because I expected to love it, but instead, I could barely find a single thing I liked about it. I had been waiting so long to come across a proper YA fantasy combining the best of my two favourite genres, and this book had gotten SO MUCH HYPE AND SO MUCH LOVE I didn’t think I could go wrong. On paper, it had everything I usually enjoy. Kick-ass heroine? Check. Assassins? Wicked. A beautiful cover? YUSSSSSS. So why oh why did I find myself repeatedly considering DNFing it?

So, for those who don’t know, Throne of Glass is the story of a dainty but deadly assassin called Celaena, rescued from her life sentence in the salt mines (a prison basically) by the Prince of the land, who wants her to fight other assassins in a Hunger Games-esk tournament to find the best possible person to become the King’s Champion. If she loses, she’s dead. If she wins, she must work for the King for the rest of her life, a man she despises and who is responsible for the endless suffering in the kingdom. Sounds like a fun setup right? *Sigh.* Where do I begin…

Firstly, the worldbuilding was ohh so basic, cliché, and uninspiring. A bad, corrupt king who bans magic from the Kingdom? Never heard that one before! If Maas had put her own stamp on it, it probably would have been okay, but there is basically no worldbuilding to support this set up. I feel like I don’t know anything interesting about this world except for vague allusions the characters make about events in the past, and we all know worldbuilding is THE MOST KEY COMPONENT OF FANTASY. I felt like saying to Maas ‘honey, you think this is a fantasy book just because you put a magic kingdom in it? Awh, that’s cute.’

Secondly, the characters were either annoying or bland. I have to say it, Celaena is one of the most annoying, up herself character’s I’ve come across, spouting out self-praise on every other page about her beautiful looks and mad assassin abilities without ever actually backing it up. I kinda wanted to strangle her. Maas turned someone who could have been a smart, complex female character into an annoying caricature of the buzzphrase ‘strong female character’, defining her by male strength. Equally, every single side character felt bland, forgettable and boring, and I didn’t like that the two main male characters Chaol and Dorian had a case of insta-love for Celaena for no reason whatsoever.

Thirdly, I found Sarah J. Maas’s writing frustrating and lacking. There was no charm to it or uniqueness, and I feel like 90% of this book was telling rather than showing. The reader is constantly told how amazing Celaena’s assassin abilities are without ever showing us anything out of the ordinary, and the fight scenes between assassins which should have been gripping made me nod off because everything was told. Urrgh.

The only positive I can find is that the plot was okay. It grumbled along. There was a central mystery of who was murdering contestants that kept me interested, as well as how mysterious magical symbols kept appearing under Celaena’s bed. Yep, that’s about it. I’ll shut up now…

Writing Style: 1/5 // Originality: 2/5 // Entertainment: 2/5 // Character Development: 2/5 //Would I recommend this book? Noooo.
Overall: 2/5

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Overall Impression: A story with amazing worldbuilding that sacrifices its plot.

Angel of Storms by Trudi CanavanIs Trudi Canavan one of my favourite authors losing her touch? I’m a bit worried.
It’s been a few months since I finished Angel of Storms, and in all honesty, I’m still not too sure what I think of it.

Angel of Storms is the second book in the Millennium’s Rule trilogy, which follows two characters, Rielle and Tyen existing in different words struggling with various magic related problems. Rielle has been shunned by her community and banished for using magic, which is only supposed to be used by Angels, so she spends her days repenting, trying to restore the magic she has stolen. However, she becomes troubled when her new acquaintances tell her that Angels do not exist, that she is not doomed for using magic, and that her ‘Angel’ sounds a lot like an all-powerful sorcerer, not a deity.

In contrast, Tyen’s world embraces and relies on magic for day to day living. Tyen is a teacher at a magic school, teaching students by day, and desperately searching for solutions by night that will help him transform Vella, a woman who’s consciousness has been stored into the leaves of a book, back to human form. However, Tyen’s plans are interrupted when the Ruler of the Worlds, Raen, is rumored to have returned, the strongest magic user in existence who forbids magical teaching. The school is disbanded and just as Tyen is leaving, he is approached by Raen, who agrees to help restore Vella if Tyen will spy on rebels that are plotting against him.

So I’ll start off by acknowledging that the concept Canavan has created for this trilogy is seriously impressive. Multiple worlds with different views on magic, developed due to its availability as a resource is very clever. Each world has its own customs and beliefs and I loved how Canavan slowly integrated the idea that Rielle’s Angel, and Tyen’s Raen were, in fact, the same person, a powerful sorcerer charged with the impossible task of balancing all the worlds and making sure they were not depleted of magic. Raen remains an elusive, enigmatic character throughout, who is persuasive and full of bold ideas. Yet you are never sure as a reader if you can trust him. Is he a villain using immoral tactics or an immortal man charged with an impossible burden trying to make the best of it? The interest and lure of this book definitely stems from this one character and trying to figure him out.

However, this novel suffers from the opposite problem to Throne of Glass, it has too much worldbuilding and not enough forward momentum to the story. This is something I’ve experienced with Canavan’s works before, she falls into the trap of being so fascinated by her own worlds and taking the time to explore them that the characters’ missions become a bit muddled and lost in between her beautiful writing. When I picked up Angel of Storms I was sucked into both Tyen and Rielle’s stories (in fact, I enjoyed Rielle’s point of view much more this time around where previously I had struggled with her and found her irritating!), however, half way through the book it felt like progress wasn’t being made with either characters. Rielle was still with the travellers pondering her future and whether her Angel was what he seemed while Tyen tried to remain in the rebels favour so that he could spy for the Raen. It was only in the last 100 or so pages that things began to pick up, and by that point I had been bored and impatient for some time, questioning what exactly the point of this story and world was. This book could have been much shorter than it was.

So ultimately, while this book had great character development, writing and worldbuilding, it had serious pacing issues which meant I struggled to finish it. I just felt like it was missing… something? Hopefully, book three will be more fast paced!

Writing Style: 3/5 // Originality: 4/5 // Entertainment: 3/5 // Character Development: 4/5 //Would I recommend this book? Probably.
Overall: I’m really torn between 3-4 stars with this one, but I’m going to stick with 3/5

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Thanks for reading, guys! I hope you enjoyed the reviews. 🙂 Until next time!

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15 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: Fantasy Novels with Female Heroines

  1. Oh, thank goodness someone else disliked Throne of Glass as much as I did!! Everyone keeps telling me the series gets better and I need to keep going, but I just can’t muster of the interest.

    I’ve had Bone Season on my TBR list forever, so this was also a good reminder that I need to get to that. 🙂

    • That’s what everyone keeps telling me too!! I must admit, I have serious doubts but I do already own book 2 so I’ll give it a go, but if that’s no better I won’t be continuing.

      It was on my tbr for quite a while too before I read it, but then I rushed straight out to get book 2. 😉

  2. Wow!! Did I really just read something negative from Becky about Trudi Canavan?? Book 2 is often a struggle in many series, so don’t give up hope Book Buddy. I’m sure she’ll come through for you in Book 3 :). Now I’m curious to see what I will think of this one. I have it but haven’t started it yet. I’ll let you know.

    • Yes, I did. 😦 Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it a lot of it and I will continue to read her novels! But the past couple of series I’ve read of hers have been kind of middling enjoyment rather than having a ‘love’ status. I’m not sure she will ever top the awesomeness of her first two series which I loved so much. Book two is definitely always a toughy though like you say.

      I can’t wait to see what you think of the Raen!

  3. I agree with you on Throne of Glass. I didn’t find the story and characters as superb as everyone says they are. I was told that the second book is better but my reaction to it was pretty much the same as to the first.

  4. I thought I was the only one who didn’t like Throne of Glass! I’m so pleased I’m not alone! I wanted to like it so much, but it just really wasn’t for me. I think I might come back to it at some point, but I’m not convinced.

  5. Hideously late to this (as I am with everything blogging-related – thank you, work…), but these reviews really make me want to get the series by Shannon- it sounds increasingly interesting with every review you give it. And man, that’s a shame about Throne of Glass- what a waste of an amazing cover (is that shallow of me? But seriously, that cover is really cool; it’s a shame the story couldn’t match it).

    • Well, I am hideously late answering this comment, so you’re forgiven. 😉
      I think you will really like Shannon’s series, I can see you loving how much detail she goes into about London and her supernatural worldbuilding. I think you would like the main character a lot as well!

      I know, I loved the cover so much. Major disappointment. 😦 Not shallow at all, it’s completely what drew me to it!

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