These volumes provide all sorts of climactic, dramatic, startling action, and then a surprisingly relaxed and even sweet and sometimes funny interlude... with DOOM hanging over it.

I like how, especially in these two volumes, people generally behave reasonably and listen when people say they have something important to tell them, and sometimes change their minds when presented with new evidence. There are definitely jerks, bad people, and people being ruthless, self-destructive, and cruel. But there's very little totally random assholery.

I have read way too many recent fantasy novels in which people behave completely irrationally to serve the plot and ensure that the obvious course of action taken by the protagonists won't work. ("Screw your evidence proving that you're not the person who killed my wife and someone else is! I tear it up and drink it like a milkshake, HA HA HA!") I appreciate how Hale often has the logical course of action work, but then new obstacles or unanticipated complications arise.

Everything else is completely and utterly spoilery.

Book Seven:

Oh my God, poor Ji. I love (loved?) her.

I copy a bit from my comments in someone else's locked post:

I absolutely loved Kahlil's realization that in fact, sometimes people are reasonable and not awful and that if you sit down and explain stuff to them, sometimes they will listen. And also that Alidas got attached to his sad amnesiac assassin and was pleased to see him in better shape, even if Kahlil didn't quite register the extent to which that had happened.

The less-than-sinister scholars' club was great. I like the way things (mostly) aren't black-and-white: the scholars are very likable... but the tradition they're hanging on to left women out entirely (except as prophetic skeletons, yikes), while John's group has integrated women at every level.

I too liked that sometimes things do go as planned. Kahlil's plot was quite clever and I got a slightly guilty kick out of seeing him finally get a chance to do some assassinating. It was also quite a contrast to his chase and duel with Fikiri, which was much more desperate and brutal and didn't go as planned.

I too hope and want to see what happened to turn Fikiri that bad. I'm surprised, too, that he died this early. So the endgame, I guess, is Laurie vs. everyone. I hope that she isn't just totally evil, but more complicated than that. I was relieved to find that she still has her own body.

ETA: I re-read the climactic sequence and noticed that she seemed "very thin beneath the robes." Maybe she's MOSTLY a skeleton. Aieeeee!

Her kid does seem to be a giant dangling plotline. I feel like this must somehow play into the endgame.

Book Eight:

I'm glad John and Ravishan got a chance to openly be lovers and enjoy each other's company, even for a brief time. Ji inviting Ravishan into the Fai'daun was partly what I was thinking of when I said I liked seeing people behave rationally.

I also loved John's interactions with Ji, and seeing him explore his powers. Tavesh is sweet, and I enjoyed her goggling at John in his very tight shirt, and then being all "AWWW!" at him and Ravishan.

Scenes where a very buttoned-down character is dosed with truth potion and blurt out their inner feelings never fail to amuse me. I cracked up at the scene where John and Ravishan are alone in the baths, and John starts saying stuff that, from anyone else, would be completely normal stuff to say when you're naked and making out with your boyfriend:

John: "You're so hot... I really liked it when you went down on me at the hotel."

Ravishan: "You're still drugged, aren't you?"

I also liked the slight physical awkwardness of the sex, with John failing to notice that Ravishan had already finished early. That's what I meant by wanting more - it doesn't have to be explicit, I just wanted to see them interact during sex.

Oh, and Saimura's mom is a dog. I liked how he shrugged it off with, "Yeah, lots of people think that's weird."

I was right that Basawar is fundamentally damaged and faded - from all the gate openings, it turns out. I am guessing that there will not be a loophole enabling them all to get back to Nayeshi. I just hope that John does manage to grow some chili peppers on Basawar. He's a God, he should be able to spontaneously generate some chipotle.

I have a feeling the books will be all DOOM from here on out.

Enemies and Shadows (The Rifter)

The Silent City (The Rifter)
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