Shield Dunleavy Mallorough and Source Shintaro Karish have lived in Flown Raven for five years, protecting its residents from natural disasters and enjoying the lack of interference from both the council of the Triple S and the Emperor. When they are unexpectedly summoned by the council, Lee and Taro learn that while they have been living at their isolated post, there have been a lot of changes in the world, changes that will drag them into unimaginable duties and unprecedented danger.
🐯🐯🐯💀💀 /★★★☆☆ ||Blimming heck. You wait six books for a plot… then it all comes along at once! The last book in this seven part series is actually good, so it’s a shame about the four saggy ones in the middle.
If this review feels like I’m flogging a dead horse, that’s BECAUSE I AM. None of the books in this series learn from the mistakes of the previous ones. I’ve complained about two of the following points in my reviews for books 3, 4 and 5, so now I’m going to complain about them in books 6 and 7 too!
🐯 Herp de Derp (again)
Just… the cover art. Why. Dear sweet baby jesus,, WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
(Okay, to be fair this is the least shit cover we’ve had since Book 1…but still. What is that magical necklace thing that Lee is wearing?? That just flat out doesn’t exist in the book? Why is Taro holding a sword? He doesn’t have a sword because he HATES SWORDS! Stahp.)
🐯 None of the Action (again)
Not much happens in Heroes at Odds. This didn’t surprise me one jot because ‘not much happens’ has been a consistent theme since Heroes Adrift, aka book 3.
And yet…on the surface of it, there’s an exciting story line going on in Heroes At Odds. An angry merchant turns up with a long forgotten betrothal contract, and so Taro is forced to take part in a series of trials to save Lee from being married off to the mysterious Marcus Pride. Lee’s mum and two brothers Dias and Mika arrive to support Lee, and dysfunctional family dynamics ensue as they try to bridge a gap of ten years with little contact. Meanwhile, an evil Duke concocts a fiendish plot to unseat Taro’s cousin the Duchess Fiona, involving assassins and arson.
So, do we have lots of excitement? Lots of action? Lots of juicy character interaction? Not really, no. Lee spends the book purposefully ignoring the action AND IGNORING ALL OF THE INTERESTING CHARACTERS INCLUDING HER OWN FAMILY, FFS. Every time Fiona tries to get her involved in the #PLOT, she says ‘it’s nothing to do with me’ and hangs out with a boring group of boring casters doing SWEET FANNY ALL. BORING! Meanwhile, Taro goes off and has fun with Mika and Dias… which we don’t get to see. Yes, Lee is a standoffish and possibly autistic introvert who doesn’t like to get involved. But for the reader…THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING and also BORING.
Oh, and by the way Taro’s mum dies. That’s it. No drama, no resolution, no point to her character arc…she just randomly keels over and dies.
🐯 No Taro x Lee (again)
The first three books in this series spent a lot of time developing the romance between Lee and Taro relationship, which is the core (and at times only) strength of the series. I love their relationship, their quarrels and their character quirks, so I find it very disappointing that towards the end of the series we don’t see them do anything together… not even talking.
Despite the fact that the entire plot of Heroes At Odds is a romantic competition forcing Taro to compete for Lee’s hand… they don’t have more than one single conversation about themselves and their relationship in the whole book! Whilst Lee spends most of her time with the boring casters being bored, Taro hangs out with the FUN characters having FUN, off-page where we can’t read about it.
Moving on to in Heroes Reward, there’s still no DMCs, no kissing, no cuddling. Nothing to give any suggestion that they aren’t just good mates, apart from Taro making a bad sex joke. And there is not a single conversation about the fact they just got married. WHAT!?
Look, I get that they are a chilled out couple with a low pressure relationship (healthy! positive!) but their complete lack of emotional intimacy was really was pushing the whole ‘romance’ thing to the limit.
This is not a relationship. This is…the reader being HECKING BORED.
🐯 Then suddenly … All Of The Action!??
Heroes Reward gave me the whiplash of a series’ worth of plot being crammed into a single final book. The Emperor amasses an army to attack the Triple S and take complete control, and Taro and Lee are drafted into helping train the Triple S forces. The Emperor won’t stop locking up and executing nobles, so Taro and Lee have to stage a daring rescue of Fiona’s brother during the middle of a prison riot. To be honest, this is probably the best action sequence of the entire series! Meanwhile, the Emperor’s mysterious consort Lady Green seems to be slowly poisoning him to get her hands on the crown, and this all leads up to a series of magical battles which will decide the fate of the continent.
It’s all very interesting and exciting, and there’s a lot going on within a very small number of pages. There’s no reason why the war plot and growing political conflict couldn’t have been extended back into previous instalments, Chekov’s gun style, to make it feel less rushed. What we end up with is… once again (drumroll please)… a woeful lack of character interaction. There’s a massive cast built up from seven books, but we barely get to learn anything about the fun people. Lady Green is by far the most pivotal character in this book, so why is it that I now have to ask: Who the hell is she and what did she actually want? What is her history and how did she get into power? Was she really controlling and poisoning the Emperor? What does she think of Lee and Taro? And most importantly, WHY is she executed off-page before the reader gets answers to ANY of these basic questions???
In fact, the reader gets pretty much no explanation to ANY underlying questions. Why has magic started to return? What are the underlying laws of magic anyway? Why do Taro and Lee have powers above and beyond most Shields and Sources? Why can’t the reader just GET TO READ ABOUT THINGS??????
Le sigh. At least we get a HEA. Heroes Reward was a fun and conclusive end, but it still didn’t come close to the cosy and wholesome fun of the first two books in the series. I still strongly recommend Resenting the Hero and The Hero Strikes Back to romance and fantasy fans. However, if you want to plod through their five sequels…consider yourself warned.
Heroes At Odds:
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