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Merle

Merle

Crown of Stars by Kate Elliott

Crown of Stars - Kate Elliott

For those who don’t already know: I am not a series reader. I like my books fresh rather than familiar, and even a trilogy is a lot of one story for me. Half the reason I read this saga is because I enjoy Elliott’s work and find it remarkably consistent in quality (I tire of authors as quickly as I tire of series, but after a whopping 15 books from her, am still looking forward to the next installment of Black Wolves). The other half was just to have the experience of reading a 7-book fantasy series. Aside from Harry Potter and Narnia, I believe this was a first.

 

And I was glad to be done with it, because after the third book it started to get stale (lovers of long series may feel differently). The characters are not really that deep or exciting, and a lot of pages are spent on fairly flat secondaries. The plot loses momentum; every once in awhile there’s a chance to blow everything open and get some real action going, but while it never bogs down like certain other series (I read most of the Wheel of Time, okay, can you blame me for not wanting more?), it just sort of trundles along in the later books, without much sense of danger and urgency and the fate of the world – or at least our favorite characters – resting on a knife edge, which is what you want in epic fantasy. As for this last volume, it isn’t bad, but nor was it an edge-of-the-seat read. Many of the subplots to which much time was devoted over the course of the series still don’t seem essential.

 

The ending itself is decent. Commentary below the fold.

Not having a definitive resolution to the return of the Ashioi is unusual and anticlimactic, though much more realistic than your typical fantasy (after all, real foreign relations are rarely settled once and for all). The villains get their just desserts (I’m surprised at the comments that they get off lightly, and after reading them was expecting Hugh or Antonia to get off scot-free). Liath and Sanglant get their happy ending (so after dying and coming back, Sanglant no longer wants to be king? Convenient). Alain wanders off into the sunset with his dogs (inconclusive, but in this character’s transition to sainthood, he felt more and more distant to this reader, to the point it’s hard to envision anything else). Rosvita is elected the new skopos (the perfect ending for this dull paragon of a character). And Hanna hooks up with Ivar (she’d definitely outgrown and outclassed this whiny dude, who was clearly in a relationship with his male best friend anyway. These two never even had chemistry).

(show spoiler)

 

All in all, a fine ending to a series I’d have liked better as a trilogy. Elliott’s writing has improved and her series grown shorter since, and thank goodness for that.

 


Crown of Stars ratings:

 

King’s Dragon: 4
Prince of Dogs: 3.5
The Burning Stone: 4
Child of Flame: 3
The Gathering Storm: 2.5
In the Ruins: 3
Crown of Stars: 3