Legacy of Kings – C.S. Friedman

About the book
The young peasant woman Kamala has proven strongand determined enough to claim the most powerful Magister sorcery forherself-but now the Magisters hunt her for killing one of their own. Her onlyhope of survival lies in the northern Protectorates, where spells are warped bya curse called the Wrath that even the Magisters fear. Originally intended toprotect the lands of men from creatures known only as souleaters, the Wrathappears to be weakening-and the threat of this ancient enemy is once morefalling across the land.
480pages (paperback)
Publishedon: October 6, 2011
Publishedby: Orbit
C.S.Friedman is one of my favorite authors. I love how she enjoys toying withantiheros, and because of that her work tends to remain fresh and uniquecompared to other books within the genre. In fact, her Coldfire Trilogy is incredibly widely read and highly rated and isone of my favorite series. T he ColdfireTrilogy really highlights her incredible work with unique settings andmagic systems as well as memorable characters and antiheros.
WhileI haven’t ever thought that the MagisterTrilogy is as good as the ColdfireTrilogy, it’s still a highly enjoyable series written by one of my favoriteauthors. When I realized the last book in the trilogy was published (I’mblaming new motherhood for not realizing this sooner), I bought it on my iPadand started reading it immediately. Legacyof Kings was, perhaps, one of my most anticipated reads this year. The factthat this was one of my most anticipated reads is probably why my reaction toit was so incredibly mixed.
Theproblem with anticipated books and favorite authors is that expectation isbuilt up so much in the readers mind that it’s easy to not hit that high markthat reader’s desire. That’s the case here. While Legacy of Kings is an incredibly satisfying end to an amazinglyenjoyable series, it just didn’t hit the marks I was expecting from Friedmanand in the end, this left me rather disappointed.
Thewonderful thing about the MagisterTrilogy is that it’s such a refreshing, unique spin on traditional sorceryfantasy. In fact, the magisters themselves, while being slightly traditionalwith their long lived lives and incredible intelligence, have fresh life blowninto them with Friedman’s dark, somewhat sinister spin on where their magiccomes from. In previous books, Friedman spent plenty of time exploringmagisters and their power. In Legacy ofKings, the science behind where their power comes from is exposed, and whileI didn’t find this to be a huge surprise, it was still a satisfying andbelievable reveal which tied nicely into the plot.
Friedmandoes a wonderful job at including all of her main characters from previousbooks in Legacy of Kings, and nicelyexploring where situations in previous books have brought them. Being a lastbook in a series, there isn’t an incredible amount of character developmentthat takes place, but there is some. While I did find the actions of thecharacters in Legacy of Kings arebelievable in regards to actions and developments in previous books, I did feelalmost bored with some of the characters.
Boredomeis due to my expectations with Freidman to really toy with the gray area withher characters and this, being the last book in the series, doesn’t leave muchroom for that. I felt that many of Friedman’s characters lost their “gray”aspects and aligned completely to “good” or “evil.” This disappointed me quitea bit. I love Friedman because of her tendency to lack clear “good” or “evil”boundaries and in Legacy of Kings, Ifelt that black and white were loud and proud in some of the characters thatlacked it in previous books.
Friedmancovers a lot of ground plot-wise in Legacyof Kings and because of this, it seems like something is always happening.Where she shines is that, not only are big events happening in the plot, butshe keeps it personal, as well. Many of the characters not only take part inthings like epic journeys, but also inner struggles. This balance of inner andouter events is truly wonderful and makes the book shine. Friedman keeps eventsreal and believable. However, there is a negative to balance this positive.Many of the events were predictable. Thus, the book lost much of its surprisefactor. This wasn’t the only affect predictability had. It also stripped thebook of much of the uniqueness I enjoyed so much from previous books in theseries. Legacy of Kings read morelike traditional fantasy with plenty of traditional elements, rather thanFriedman fantasy.
Perhapsthis last point is a quibble, but it really highlights, to me, that Friedmanreally wasn’t in her top form when writing Legacyof Kings. Friedman tends to use repetitive descriptors here. While it’s notthat big of a deal, and I doubt many readers will even notice, to me it stuckout like a sore thumb. In one chapter she describes wine as looking like bloodat least three times. Like I said, it’s not a big deal, but it really was,perhaps, the most obvious thing that showed that Friedman was writing anenjoyable series ender, but she wasn’t writing her best work and these repetitivedescriptors really made portions of the book feel clunky.
The Magister Trilogy was a lot of fun toread. While I do feel that the first two books in the series were much strongerthan this third book, Legacy of Kingsis still a worthy, and enjoyable read. Though Legacy of Kings lacked the gray characters I enjoy so much,suffered from a rather predictable plot and some clunky writing, it stillnicely (perhaps a bit too nicely to be completely believable) ties up plenty ofloose ends and answered important questions. This is, by no means, Friedman’sbest work, but it’s a must read for any fans of the Magister Trilogy and is an incredibly satisfying end to a wonderfultrilogy.

3 Responses

  • Liviu

    For me this book has been pretty disapointing though I was unsure if that was due to my distancing away from traditional fantasy (whether of the new gritty or old wish fulfillment kind) or due to the author's obvious "by the numbers, something done just to be done" writing in the novel.

    A minor quibble – here in the US I am pretty sure the book has been published by Daw (Penguin) not by Orbit (Hachette) but I have no idea if Orbit has not published it in the UK

  • Sarah (Bookworm Blues)

    Thanks for the clarification. I got the publishing info from goodreads so it could be wrong.

  • RobB

    I also thought I was in the minority in being disappointed in the conclusion to what I thought was a fairly strong series.

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