This is, first of all, a genius idea for a book. Have the big, heroic quest – and then show us what comes after! And prior to reading, I would have said that E.K. Johnston was the perfect author to do it! Now, I am slightly less certain. I should state as a disclaimer that I did like this a fair bit, it's just that the combination of author + premise gave me such unreasonably high expectations that this just couldn't quite meet. I think that if the book had been set entirely in the "after" I would have loved it; it was the alternating flashbacks to the "before", the quest that made these characters famous, that I felt slowed the pacing and robbed me of a bit of my emotional investment in the story. Having said that, there was so much to like here, including the way that Johnston took the tropes of epic fantasy and turned them around to suit the world she’s created and her female-centric story. This is so diverse and inclusive – the diversity goes beyond skin color and includes lesbian, asexual, and trans characters – and so thoughtful, and I think the only real issue is the pacing.
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