I think on balance I enjoyed The Grace of Kings, but I’m not sure whether I care enough to seek out the next book any time soon. It reminded me very much of my experience of reading Icelandic sagas, somehow; something about the parade of characters and the almost didactic tone of the prose at times… It’s hard to put my finger on, but it felt very much like that — which let me engage the same reading technique I used when reading the sagas: I sat back and let it wash over me, trusting that the narration would remind me of the important things at the right moments. And it did.
The thing is, though I could read massive chunks of it all in one go, I didn’t crave picking it back up when I put it down. It was so easy to read, and yet not compelling to me; I liked the characters okay, but felt like they were more legends and parables than people to follow or enjoy. The violence and plotting and political manoeuvring felt less than urgent to me, and in the end I only barely got invested in who won in the end. It’s a different way of storytelling, and one I wasn’t in the mood for at the moment.
I think I need to sit with this a bit longer before I decide whether to get the second book; right now, I don’t feel like it, but I wonder if it’ll creep back and make me curious. We’ll see!
So the upshot is, it’s enjoyable enough, but if my past self asked, “Hey, should I bother?”… I wouldn’t say no, but I wouldn’t say a whole-hearted “yes!!!”, either.