Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It's a very workmanlike fantasy, all child of light facing off against the darkness after first starting off an orphan in the army pining after her boy-love, only to discover she's a princess of magic tons of other standard tropes.
It's written well, for what it is, but it's true what they say. Nothing's new under the sun.
It's a very comfortable read and it does the tropes better, in my opinion, than the same fantasy stories that have been told for centuries or longer, but especially in the last 40 years. In fact, since there's not much else that I can say except that it just does the same old thing except slightly better, I can judge it on that merit alone without bringing up that I was slightly bored, just hoping and waiting for that one good twist that would turn the convention on its head and turn the read from good to excellent. It didn't happen.
War happens, as do great winged beasties, a great darkness, and a strong thread of YA romance. We go from reluctant hero to losing hope and giving in to access her super-powerful magic, a detailed quest to find the mythical focus, and the grand revelation... it's all here and all very, very comfortable. I suppose I understand why it's been a very popular novel.
My main problem is in deciding whether I want to read further. I'm sure this might be a fantastic starter fantasy novel. And I'm sure that many people swear by it with their dying breath.
I just don't know why I should read more if it isn't going to hold any surprises for me. I mean, literally everything was telegraphed far in advance, from the romance elements to the grand betrayal, it was all as comfortable as can be.
I think I'm going to have to read a lot of reviews to decide whether the series decides to surprise us. If it does, then I'll have no issues. If it continues to roll out all the same tropes without doing even a single new thing, then no.
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