Road Brother's is a collection of short stories taken place in the Broken Empire. Most characters are from The Broken Empire trilogy, with some from The Red Queen's War Trilogy. I read this collection after The Broken Empire and before The Red Queen's War Trilogy. Currently, this is how I would recommend reading it as well. As much as I would have liked the more personable stories of the road brothers, the collection would contain too many spoilers to read before the trilogy.
While some stories I like better than others, I really enjoyed seeing the side characters become the main characters. Mark Lawrence has a way of making you see every character in his worlds. I thought I knew them, then I found out that there was so much more to know. They all had their back story or side story. I also enjoyed seeing how Jorg finally came to lead the brothers. I admit to wondering about that quite a bit.
The last story was almost an intro to his second trilogy. It left me both excited and hesitant to start the new series.
I had never heard of Girls of Paper and Fire, or Natasha Ngan, before I received my OwlCrate book box. I was instantly drawn to the cover and captavated by the description of the book. The world of Girls of Paper and Fire is unique. There are three casts. The Demon cast are animal human hybrids and rule over the land. The Moon cast are a mix of human with demon features. Lastly, the paper cast, is humans with no animal features. Except Lei is born with golden eyes. Demon eyes in a paper girl. It is enough to capture the attention of a General wishing to win favor with the King. Lei is captured and brought to the castle to become one of the king’s Paper Girls - one of his concubines.
There are elements that are seen in other YA books mixed in with elements that are unique. The characters are vivid. I enjoy watching Lei’s progression. It is realistic, a gradual change that is impacted by her character and her circumstances. All of the characters in the book are equally real, even the ones that only show up for a page or two. You are drawn into the world of demons. Ngan says that she wrote the book to provide more diversity to YA literature. There is a strong Mongolian culture brought into the book as well as LGBTQ characters. I personally was drawn to the strong female characters and the choices they made even while they were being repressed both culturally and due to their gender.
The book does contain themes of sexual assault, although there are no violent descriptions. I was worried from the trigger warning, yet I felt it was handled tactfully, both to not overwhelm the younger audience as well as survivors of sexual assault. I feel like the emotion of the situation could have been addressed more, especially due to the impact on the progression of the book. It was addressed, just subtly.
Overal it was a great read. I look forward to continuing on with the series, and also going back and reading the other book written by Ngan.
This entire series had me conflicted, and Emperor of Thorns is no exception. The writing was a little slower and I felt like the book was dragging. Then it would pick up and rush forward only to drag again. At the same time Jorg is humanized more in this book. While his actions are not excused they were given reasons, reasons that were understandable. In some ways he even became a hero. Yet, he is still a monster.
There was also a lot more female representation in this book. The pope is female, his wife is present, his aunt has a large role, and the necromancer is back. There is actually a large selection of female characters. Some are in power, most have at least some power, and they become more dynamic characters. His wife is probably the best character in the entire book. She is smart, cunning, merciful, and will defend her family and kingdom to the end. She is my favorite character in the entire series. It was a refreshing change from the first book.
I do not know if I actually like the ending. I suppose there really was no other way to end it. Although, the identity of The Dead King was pretty obvious. How it all came together was both over dramatic and anticlimactic. At the same time it worked. Ugh. I am not sure how I can be so conflicted about a book, and the series as a whole. I will say that Emperor of Thorns was my favorite of the series. I do not think I will ever be a Jorg groupie - he is a total sexist monster - but, I am glad that I read the series.
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