Books I own by Rachel Aaron
The Spirit Thief goodreads
Rachel Aaron (Eli Monpress #1)
There have been a great many reviews which accuse The Spirit Thief of being childish, full of deus ex machinae, with a Mary Sue protagonist and rammed full of clichés. They are not wrong.
It's still fun, though. It belongs to a more innocent age, before the grimdark came to take us. Yes, there is way too much of the "he fought harder than he ever had before", like how the latest washing powder cleans whiter than its predecessor which was in its turn the whitest ever. The deus ex machina actually has an actual deus in it. But it's nonetheless light popcorn reading which is enjoyable. Nobody's going to spend a year writing a chapter by chapter breakdown of it like the Kingkiller Chronicles got. The characters are a sixteenth-of-an-inch deep archetypes; all terrifying or all noble or all insouciance. If you want fun and a bit more depth, read the Maradaine books. But sometimes it's nice to just reread the Belgariad or Malory Towers. There's no shame in that. Sometimes I skip dinner entirely and just have the dessert too.
The Spirit Rebellion goodreads
Rachel Aaron (Eli Monpress #2)
Very much more of the same as the previous Spirit book. The Duke is all evil all the time, the good team win through the power of their true trueness, and I still sometimes skip dinner and just eat the pudding.
On the other hand, lightness of touch doesn't necessarily have to mean that thought shouldn't go into the worldbuilding. I'm not expecting everyone to be Rothfuss (tons of worldbuilding which one deduces through subtle clues and Kremlinology) or Sanderson (tons of worldbuilding, all of which is laid out on the page in intricate detail because you're reading a world sourcebook which has some actors wandering around in it) or even Eddings (who had all this planning in his head; that's what The Rivan Codex was). But there's a scene early on where Eli pays five gold standards for advice, and tips another four. So, call it ten, for round numbers. In the first book, the proposed ransom for the king was forty thousand standards, and this kingdom (quoted as having thousands of people in it; it's a duchy, not China) balks at paying it because that's the total revenue of the whole kingdom for a year. So, if there are four thousand taxpayers in the kingdom, Eli paid the whole tax burden of one of them for an entire year for that five minute consultation. Snarky comments about "paying through the nose" aside, that's daft. If you were the pre-eminent information handler in the whole world, maybe. For an old woman who works out of a broken-down warehouse, no. I'd like to think that this is for some better reason than that it just wasn't thought about, though.
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