The most recent entry into the Elemental Assassin series by Jannifer Estep is entertaining and enjoyable, but develops some disappointing tropes.
First, let me address something I didn’t in my first post about the Elemental Assassin series. These books take place in the south, and the main character, along with many of the secondary characters, have southern accents. The narrator of the audiobook attempts to portray this. I’m a southerner (though I don’t actually have a southern accent), but I tend to find the narrator’s accent a little unsettling at first. That might be because of the way the narrator does it, but I think it’s more a result of the fact that almost all the books I listen to have characters with the standard American accent. It’s not too distracting, and within the first few minutes, I don’t even notice it anymore. That’s why I didn’t mention it before; I’d literally forgotten.
One of the things I liked most about the previous book in the series was the way the main character was haunting her nemesis silently. It added a potentially perceived mystique to her actions. That sort of goes away in this book. In all the previous books, the main character was never inclined to gloat. In fact, she repeatedly criticized other characters for doing so, just after she killed them. She gets a lot more talkative in this book, and she comes off as less of a badass because of it.
Sometimes I wish I hadn’t been introduced to the idea that mid-combat monologues and conversations don’t make sense. During a fight for your life, you don’t talk. If you’re talking, it means that not all of your concentration is on the fight, and that is going to get you killed instantaneously. Harry Potter’s duel with Voldamort in the last movie was much better than it was in the book because Harry wasn’t monologuing through it. The Darth Maul lightsaber fight at the end of Phantom Menace is still the best lightsaber fight in the series, in part, because all their concentration was on the fight; they weren’t having a conversation, they were trying to kill each other. This is a basic principle that the main character in Elemental Assassin has mostly abided by in all the books leading up to this one. I was disappointed that, when she finally goes up against the big baddy, she developed a case of the monologues.
These aren’t terrible problems. Many authors include the same sort of tropes in their books (ex: J.K. Rowling, as previously mentioned). And despite this regression, the book was still very enjoyable. This book does such a good job of tying up the loose ends that, if I didn’t know there was another book already planned, I’d have thought the series was over. Overall, I really liked the book. I had just expected it to be a little better.