Hello Humans! I’ve made no secret about how much I’ve enjoyed reading Jeff Wheeler’s Harbinger series, which I’ve had the pleasure of reading and reviewing right from the start of their publication. I fell for this world of floating villas and regency-esque societal rules and I am a little bit sad that it has come to an end. That being said, I’m 99.9% sure that 47North has Jeff Wheeler chained to a keyboard somewhere since he seems to be churning out books faster than I can read them.
Side note – it’s interesting that 47North is, at least as far as I’m concerned, quite known for this fast-paced publishing, bringing out the next book in a series mere months after the first has been published, where other publishers would put a gap of a year or so in between titles. I’d love to know whether that’s because they are marketing to a primarily digital audience and because so much of their work is linked to Kindle Unlimited, meaning you have to keep publishing so people don’t cancel their subscription? But then do they commission series that are already close to finished? Do they edit less? I have so many questions.
But on with the review…
Rescued from a world of poverty, Cettie Pratt has avoided a bleak destiny—until now. Deceived and manipulated, she has been groomed for the ultimate betrayal: to destroy her best friend and stop peace from uniting two war-torn worlds. Her path leads her to a mysterious underworld where appearances can be deceiving.
Sera Fitzempress knows the value she has to her enemies. As heir to the empire, she must keep her foes at bay and prevent them from unleashing a being of unspeakable evil upon the world while fighting a brutal war. But her enemies are more cunning than Sera expects, and the key to their plans is none other than her best friend.
Neither woman knows what to believe. Neither one knows if she can trust the other. Both Cettie and Sera have made decisions that have irrevocably changed them. But the decisions they have yet to make will determine the fate of their world…
I have to say, you only need to compare this cover to the idyllic covers of the previous books to know you’re in for something a little bit different. By the end of book four, I was quite ready for the threads to start to tie off, especially since in the Kingfountain series everything tied off so nicely at the end of each book. This series has leaned more heavily on cliffhanger endings and I think most of the various plots had run their course. To try to stretch this into a six-book series would have made it far too thin, five is just right.
I liked most of this book. I still think the setting is wonderful, I still think the characters, particularly those of Cettie and Sera, are so good. While I may raise an eyebrow at it, I think the way Jeff Wheeler ties all these disparate books into one universe is clever – though it can sometimes feel like he has a Moffat-like unwillingness to ever let a character just die. But maybe that’s not why you read books like this. These are little escapes, jaunts into a world other than our own, and maybe in that fantasy world, we don’t have to think too hard about why no-one ever stays dead (that’s not a spoiler really, just a comment on the general safeness of a Jeff Wheeler novel).
The one thing I could have maybe done without was the romance plot between Cettie and Adam. This is one that has bothered me since it first reared its head. I appreciate that desire to have Cettie fall in love and ‘live happily ever after’ or at least have the potential for that but Cettie was such a cool character before that took up space in her mind. Even at the start of the book, before Adam gets mentioned, she’s doing assassin training and it’s great. I loved Cettie’s combined desire for a family but total independence and self-reliance, whereas in these later books, in particular, this book, it felt like she was constantly having a dilemma over a boy – and I just didn’t care enough to be willing to give up the airship piloting inventor we met in book one.
This is very much a ‘tie together’ book, so I wouldn’t recommend picking it up unless you have some clue as to what is happening. It took me a minute or so to get into the book, but I think that was a result of there not being a lot of exposition as to what had happened before. Again, these are books designed to be binged – I’m not sure you need it if you’re chain-reading them. I thought it managed to have that safe predictability the other books have had, while still managing to surprise me at times, the plot didn’t always go where I thought it would, and I thought that Wheeler was a little more brutal than he has been in the past. Altogether I think it makes for a better book, though I did miss some of the politics and worldbuilding details from the earlier books in this series.
Overall, I thought this was a strong ending to a good series. It doesn’t quite have the wow factor that the first book did, but I think that’s true of all of the books since Storm Glass.
I think it’s interesting that, though these books feature the POV of these two women, they spend very little time together on the page, it makes me wonder if this book would pass the Bechdel test? Still, if you have an interest in a fantasy that isn’t medieval, or a kindle unlimited account – I’d say go for it – it ends well!
My rating: 4/5 stars
I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Broken Veil is available (pun not intended) June 11th!
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What say you? Will you be reading this, or any other books in this series? Let me know in the comments below!