Well after having struggled some what to finish up the first volume in this series I took a bit of a break before tackling the second volume. I really hoped that it would be better, after all the first book was mainly set up, world building, showing the reader what was what and who was who. My hopes proved unfounded however.
After another lengthy struggle through another lengthy book which acted as a car with bad petrol in it. Fits and Starts. Parts of it are great, but parts of it are not. Its extremely uneven, and this makes me afraid to continue with the rest of the series. Pages and Pages of stuff that dosen't do anything to further the plot. Good characters shunted aside so the author can focus on characters who are, for the most part, pointless at this time in the series. Which I'm not ruling out that they could be more important later, that happened in the Wheel of Time several times.
At this point I'm not sure I'm going to continue reading this series, as the third volume is longer than the first two buy nearly 200 pages. That is almost assured to be another 200 pages of introspection bulking up a plot that could be covered in half as many chapters. Unfortunately when an author builds a huge series of huge tomes, it can sometimes occur that they are huge simply because the author is self indulgent. I'm not sure if thats the case here, since the books all cover such short spans of time it could simply be that they can't be taken as individual books but rather as parts of a whole. But so far I've not gotten enough investment in any of the characters to make me want to keep reading to find out.
I still can't bring myself to call it a bad series. It's an incredibly complexly detailed series that feels like a real world with a vast history. There are still a number of things which I feel detract from this, and its stuff thats not likely to go away. Simply put, the chances of a real medieval world featuring this many women in levels of authority is rather baffling to me. I can't think of a single Indo-European culture that actually had this level of egalitarianism. Even if cultures like that existed during the European Bronze or early Iron Age as in the case of some Celtic tribes.. it was mostly relegated to history well before anyone made it to the castles and mounted chargers phase. It's not a bad thing, since it is a Fantasy series, but to me its a bit distracting. Since none of the female soldiers are described in terms that make them sound even the remotest bit like soldiers.. they ride hard all day in armor but then all the men still faun over them.
I'm going to have to think hard about whether I will continue or not. Until then, here's a few more Cover art shots that once more put the US edition to shame.