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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027

Steel's Edge (Novel of the Edge)

Steel's Edge -  Ilona Andrews A few months ago, I decided that I really ought to read more urban fantasy novels. Because, yes, I was one of those people—the one who would look at a cover such as this, sniff, and turn my attention elsewhere. “It’s just romance masquerading as fantasy.” And then, given the majority of the people I follow on Twitter, I started thinking “Well…maybe I ought to give it more of a shot.” (Not that I’ve never read any urban fantasy ever; but the ones with the chick and the magical overtones, those were the ones I’d turn my nose up at.)As far as being a further wading out into the pool, Steel’s Edge is fairly enjoyable overall. If there’s any detriment on my part, it’s because I found out within the first few pages that this is not only Book #4 in a series, it’s also (currently) the last book in the series. However, I will say this: the writers do a pretty good job of keeping the events and characters standalone, without having to info-dump everything that happened in the last three volumes. And it still does a decent job of taking the reader into this world without being confused to the differences between the Broken, the Weird and the Edge. Not only are Weird politics established very early on in the prologue, but they use the characters to really illustrate the differences between the worlds and the class system.For example, let’s take our main coupling, Charlotte and Richard. Charlotte’s not only our introduction to the Weird class society, where title and bloodlines are everything, but also as our ‘in’ to the Edge. (If there is a detriment to the world intro here, I would say it’s toward the Edge. We never get as good of a grasp on Edge society as we do the Weird, and as far as I can tell from the book, there’s a lot more exploration of the characters who grew up there in the previous three volumes. And I really wanted to know how the mundane and the Weird got along together; aside from the few short chapters we get here at the beginning.) (It also helps that Weird politics is very much old-school classism; noble bloodlines are everything and if you’re born a blueblood, then of course you can do no wrong.)Charlotte’s been so pampered and sheltered, that the moment her husband deems there’s something ‘wrong’ with her, she’s thrown for a loop. But you don’t feel like Charlotte’s a spoiled princess who needs to be taken down a notch—I did get the sense, even as early in the prologue, that she truly cared about people. I liked that her character’s a lot stronger and more strong-willed than one would expect of her. I liked that she can effortlessly switch between roles, from unassuming hedge witch to rampaging plaguebringer of justice to a noblewoman who’s redebuting in Weird society. It also helps that you can see parts of all these traits in Charlotte, but she doesn’t let one dominate the others.Richard’s a little more stale—it’s not to say that he’s a bad character, but he is very firmly in the “loner with a heart of gold” type. (Random aside, whenever Jack says to Richard “She’s not a princess, and you’re not that good of a swordsman,” I had to laugh. Pop culture references done right, people.) But I do like him. There were moments when Richard could have gone into ragefit-chuck the book at the wall, but it’s handled well and it makes sense given his characterization. For example, towards the end when Charlotte is putting on her noblewoman persona, Richard does get jealous and angsts over the fact that “Well, I’m just an Edger, I can’t give her all of this and I’m not good enough for her ever.” But given of what we’ve seen with his characterization and upbringing, it does make sense that he would feel that way. (Plus Charlotte’s “Are you kidding me?” reaction when Richard’s trying to get her to run away with him was brilliantly handled.)And between Richard and Charlotte, there’s volumes told about the world-bringing that we don’t really need to sit there and get info-dumped on the differences between the Edge and the Weird are. We just need to read these two. Heck, even the younger characters speak volumes about the upbringing between the worlds and how different things are. (Also, can we get a spinoff about George and Jack and Sophie? Because that would be awesome.)The plotting is solid, albeit a bit…much. There is a main focus, and it’s not like there’s massive unsnarling of plotlines that don’t make sense. In fact, I love that the main plot involving the slavers leads to several personal closures for Richard and his nephews. However, my own issue with the plot overall is the massively missed opportunity with Charlotte. The prologue very clearly sets up a potential showdown between her and her former husband, including the establishment of Charlotte’s plaguebringer abilities. And when she and Richard hatch a plan to infiltrate the slavers by going after the higher class members, I thought for sure her ex-husband was going to be involved. (Yes, it’s putting things in a little too neatly; however, this is a case where that would have worked.) Instead, a lot of the climax is devoted to wrapping up what I believe are the loose ends from the prior books in the series. Which is fine, there needs to be that pay-off. But…when you set up the fact that Charlotte’s ex-husband is a potential danger plus given that he knows about her abilities as a plaguebringer and there’s no pay-off to that, I’m going to be disappointed. But Steel’s Edge was a fun little read, and a nice little palate cleanser for me. I liked the characters, I liked the plot, I had a good time reading it. I don’t know if I’ll go back and read the other three books in the series (ahaha….my TBR can’t take anymore…haaaa), but I’ll be willing to pick up and check out more of Ilona Andrews works in the future.