December Reading Log

So I thought that December would be a better month than November for reading. I was wrong. Three books was all I managed, and the third one was only because I knuckled down on the 30th and read the last 100 pages. I had one I thought I’d finish, but I’ve been off work since Christmas Eve, either because we have no work, or because I’ve been sick.

Competitions –Sharon Green

Book 2 of the 5 part series. In a world where everyone has a magical talent in one of five aspects: air, fire, water, earth, and spirit, those with the highest talents are brought together to be tested and trained. Every 25 years, a major competition is held, and groups made up of one of each talent compete. The winners are crowned the rulers of the country for the next 25 years.

In this book, our intrepid group of heroes work through their personal problems, as well as their training. We know they’re the heroes and they triumph because the first book tells us so. In this book, they have to overcome personal challenges with people (parents, ex girlfriend, former boss, etc), as well as learn how to use their talents in a variety of ways. They also visit the bathhouses a lot, and drink a great deal of tea. Not very exciting.

Challenges – Sharon Green
Book 3 of the 5 part series. In this, our intrepid heroes get past the initial training, into the competitions, and get placed into Blendings, so they can function as pawns for the evil nobility. Since knowledge of a Blending is against the law, little is known about how powerful they can be.
Our heroes discover all kinds of abilities a Blending can do, because they’re the most talented, and they’re also the ones spoken of in the Prophecy. No spoiler there, the first few pages of the first book spells it out. While our heroes are learning, the evil Blending that our heroes will eventually face also learns that a Blending can do many things. They use their knowledge for evil.
The competitions come, with the winners being crowned the rulers of the nation for the next 25 years. The heroes knock out their competitors, which happen to be the Blending picked to win. This throws everything into a loop, and eventually they have a showdown with the Evil Blending, only to get knocked unconscious at the critical moment, because these books have to end on cliffhangers.
They drink a lot of tea, they visit the bathhouse, they fight, they fall in love, and in general, they’re freaking boring. I remember this book really well, despite having not read it in like 10 years. It’s not a very great series, I kept putting it down to do other things.

Betrayals – Sharon Green
Book 4 of 5, and the one I drug my feet to get through. This book is the most action packed of the 4 I’ve read, but it’s also the least satisfying. It starts off with our heroes split apart, 3 being claimed by someone, and 2 drugged. Our narrator is the fire magic user, and she’s been given to the seated High Fire User for the country. He’s a sleazy douche and a jerk, and she manages to get free. With the help of someone who’s reason for being there is unveiled in book 5, the Fire user gets away. The two of them rescue the Air user, who’s been returned to his overbearing mother. The three of them go to rescue the Water magic user, who’s being held, at least for a few days, as a sex slave to a nasty woman.
From there, they meet a resistance whose goal is to pretty much sit around and do nothing, but at least they provide the heroes a way out of the city, and a way to get to the other two. So they take off, fight, ponder, and drink tea. While they do that, we’re given chapters with the Evil Blending, who have taken the throne, and what they plan to do about things.
The rest of the book is actually fighting, big, unwinnable battles they still manage to come out on top with. There’s less tea, and less about the bathhouses, since they’re criminals, but still, the last 100 pages or so were a slog. Of the first 4 books of the 5, it’s the one I remember the least. I remember the beginning really well, with the Blending being split up. I don’t remember a lot of the rest of the book though, so it was kind of a surprise as I read it.
Not my favorite book, largely because the author felt the need to introduce a love triangle that’s not needed, and also to have the Spirit user fuck with everyone’s minds, but it was supposed to be ok…