Kate Elliott – Crown Of Stars

The seventh and final book of the same-titled epic fantasy series by Kate Elliott is Crown Of Stars (2006). It is more than a direct continuation of the previous book, In The Ruins, as they were supposed to be one book that got too large. A good choice as it is always nice to read more and also because the scale of the series was such that rushing it wouldn’t be healthy, a thing I somewhat complained of in my review of the fifth book, The Gathering Storm. Nevertheless it can always be possible that cut books should have been shortened instead, but this is not the case here.

I have already said a lot about the series in my previous reviews so if you read them in order I don’t need to repeat myself. The series has a large cast of characters, a wide range of cultures and peoples while being set in a more unusual time-period analogue to tenth century Earth. These are certainly the strong points of this series as Elliott manages to present them in a clear and strong way that feels different from the more mainstream tripes.

The characterization overall is good, but has its weak and strong moments. The second and fifth book were lacking on that part as I felt little connection. The third and fourth book were strong, while the others, including this last volume, can be said to be fairly decent.

The plot was even more unstable. It was fairly straightforward in the first, second, fourth and fifth book, while being complex in the third, sixth and seventh. The straightforward plot worked well in the first and fourth book, as the second has too little substance while the fifth had too much and was rushed instead. The complex plots only worked (very) well in the third book, but after completing the seventh I can’t say I’m satiesfied about the plot complexity of the last two novels. The main problems are that it lacks direction and that events lack explanation or just have to be taken as given. There are too many sudden surprises that are a bit too coincidental or just did not need to be added to make a consistent story. This annoyed me enough that I put the book down for a few days even as I was at two-thirds already. Some things are never explained, and even while I don’t mind if certain mysteries remain, these were a bit too essential as Elliott instead expanded the mystery. This resulted me being dissatisfied at the end, which is never a good thing.

So my final verdict on this series is not overly positive. As mentioned it has several refreshing elements which allow the reader to keep going, but plot instability, a not very strong character connection and a bit too many conveniences (especially in the last three books) of which the purpose remains unclear make me not particularly recommend this series. My initial gut feeling turned out right and as such I am happy I bought it second hand. It is an entertaining read which is not much mainstream. It begins pretty decent, has an engaging and strong middle part, but drifts in the end, wanting too much without providing good conclusions.

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