Finally, the last 100 or so pages, stuff actually happens but it’s…to be kind…fucking obvious. So it’s not so much as a surprise as “JUST TELL ME ALL THE THINGS I KNOW ALREADY.”
And it unfolds roughly as you’d expect. All the characters are rather 2 dimensional – so the ones that treat him nice, continue to be nice and the one’s that continually call him a bastard, try to kill him. WOW. Stunning character development. I didn’t see that horrible bastard who sneered and told the main character that he’s worthless trying to get rid of him in a nasty way at all!
It doesn’t pass the test either – though mercifully there’s no attempt at using rape as a thinly disguised plot point and it’s not misogynistic. However, the half-hearted attempts at having fully developed women characters ends up being more annoying than if they were left out.
What I found irritating was that all the women in the book generally do stereotypically womanly things – bakers, cooks, nannies, ladies in waiting, princess – except Hod. Hod, for some inexplicable (in the sense that it’s never explained, even though it is at odds with the entire societal structure) is the person who trains everyone how to fight and use weapons. And the author calls attention to it, which is just…lazy? I don’t know. At least give her a backstory to say why she’s got that position!
There are a couple other women who have jobs and are somewhat normal – Molly and the Princess Kettricken. In contrast, the old Queen (dies of over-indulging in alcohol and drugs) and Lady Patience (a bit scatterbrained) are both deeply flawed. So we’re about 50/50 for women who are capable and women who aren’t. Though, almost all the men are 100% capable. It’s annoying!
All the other characters are men, so many men. There are 3 princes to begin with, the King, Burrich, various stablehands, various valets, the Fool, all Fitz’s teachers and almost everyone they talk to is a man. They all have names and almost all get some of their backstories revealed (more so than any of the women).
None of the women are main characters – not even remotely.
So yes, it’s like it was sort of half-heartedly attempted but that just made it more obvious that it was done half-assed (also, the author is a woman which makes it even more irksome.)
But the greatest problem was that it was ever so dull. There’s no way I’d pick up the sequel, I just can’t be fucked really. Boring is one thing, obvious and boring is another.
3/5 stars because this is your bog-standard fantasy novel and at least there’s no rape (I can’t believe that’s now something I look forward to because it’s so fucking common in these goddamn books).