This epic fantasy series is mentioned in every intro in the Ember-verse, so I finally decided to give it a try. It’s OK. The world-building is great, the characters, not so much. Most are one-note characters, and the only really interesting person is the King’s beloved who is demoted to ‘lets be friends’ and cannot deal with it. The corruption of a good person to a ‘look what you made me do’ evil is slow and not entirely certain – there are many opportunities for redemption.
Westria is America’s West Coast after the apocalypse. Tech is gone, we’ve got fantasy-feudalism instead. The Spirit Animals of Westria don’t directly influence people, but the King’s Council and the College of Mages try to keep the balance.
The Queen, ie Mistress of Jewels, has some character change in Book 1. She is told by her parents that she is not just ugly but uuuuglyyyyyy – since age 6!!!! – because of a burn scar on her arm. And if she doesn’t tell people that she’s really uglier than she looks (!!!!!) than she is lying, leading them on, and being a wicked girl. Yikes, that’s some bad parenting! Obviously the King cannot fall in love with her – but he does. Even though he sees her sleeve fall away from her burn scar. Later, she has to face a fire. Character development! In emergencies, the Queen knows just what to do. But most of hte time, she’s about as take-charge as a leaf in the wind.
The King and most men (and women) in the story are pretty static, the plot tension comes from playing them off against each other instead of internal conflict.
Book 2 -Mr. Evil becomes more Evil, Good triumphs through the details (hah, the devil is in the details subverted!) there is character death galore, and I can see the general outline of the rest of the series. Which I’m not sure I want to read.