There are so many tropes in the first chapters of the book. Insta-crushes, special snowflakeyness, false modesty (MC insists she’s nothing special and still never misses a chance to point out one way or another, that she’s smarter than most people.), and of course the main love interest who is of-fucking-course, a pretentious jerk. (Betcha the MC will tear down all his walls with the power of love).
So let’s start with how smart Vhalla is supposed to be. It is pointed out again and again and again, so the reader never forgets.“Vhalla noticed the other apprentices had stopped searching and claimed places on the floor to begin confirming the contents of each manuscript […] Their piles were so small. She could think of five tomes in potions alone that Sareem had missed.”“Vhalla did have one precious thing though, her knowledge. And she would be cursed before she would let an apprentice of the Tower show her up intellectually.”“People did not often question her knowledge of the library, especially when it came to reading.”
My eyes rolled so far back.... UGH. Especially on that last quote since she was acting all offended because “how dare this person ask if I’ve read these books? Of course I’ve--wait what’s that? I have indeed never read this book.” *facepalm*“Show me that big intellect the world seems to praise you for.”
Really, the world? Lmao. That is one sad world if Vhalla’s “intellect” is somehow praise-worthy.
For a moment there, Aldrik seemed to be the only character not impressed by Vhalla and I thought to myself…finally.
The first couple of chapters mostly served to make it clear that the main character may not have much going for her but she’s one bright cookie. Or at least… she reads a lot. So much she stands out among her group of fellow apprentices and she is able to remember the information contained in several books with relative ease.
Yet, for someone who reads a lot, she has little common sense, she needs people to repeat stuff to her for her to understand what they’re saying, and when faced with a new dilemma she doesn’t think about reading up on it until another character has to nudge her to do so.
At least, Vhalla realizes this herself. Which, you know, kudos to her for that.“Vhalla had always considered herself intelligent, at least above average (yes, yes you’re so smart, even though aside from people saying so and your own ego pointing it out every two pages you have not really done that much to prove it). But could she even make that claim if she ignored a whole field of study with a closed mind?”
At one point she also mentions that she has a very curious mind, yet when she went to the Tower of the Sorcerers she tried to keep herself from so much as looking at her surroundings since she didn’t want to “take” anything from that place. That mind… not so curious after all, is it?
To be fair, at this point I was giving her the benefit of the doubt thinking there had to be a strong personal reason for her to be so judgmental against magic, and as it turns out, she did have a reason, only… it wasn’t that strong to begin with, and she was easily persuaded into letting go of her prejudice after a couple of note exchanges with “Her Phantom”. *sigh*
Vhalla is also a super low-key judgy-mcjudgerson.“Then, do you think it’s true he’s a bastard?” Where did that even come from and what do you care? Honestly, this girl. At least Roan shuts her off immediately before she got more inappropriate. I think this was only added for plot purposes (or I want to believe so) but it was so distasteful I just wanted to grab Vhalla and smack her for her very rude and random train of thought.“Vhalla saw the feet of those who passed, boots and polished shoes. Why did sorcerers have such nice things when the slippers she owned were almost worn to holes? When her windows were archer’s slits and her halls were barren, cracked, and roughhewn?”“Southerners were lucky with their light skin and features.”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS?
She also acts very childish and is kind of a brat on several occasions, you’d think at her age and for somebody intellectual like her…well, she’d behave differently.“Vhalla!”“What?” she replied sharply, staring at Mohned. Vhalla instantly realized her disrespectful tone.
Of course, this is, I assume, justified because she’s so focused on helping her beloved prince. “I want to go home,” she finally breathed.
“I am sorry, Vhalla, but you should stay—”
“I want to go home!” Vhalla’s cry interrupted him. Through burning eyes she glared at a man to whom she should show respect and obedience.
This guy abducted her, so I kind of want to give her a pass. Yet her reaction still strikes me as extremely childish. Also, the only reason he had to go to such extremes (not that it’s excusable) was only because she began yelling at him when he asked to speak to her and time was running out. She didn’t really give him much of a choice considering the circumstances. “She stared numbly at the antagonistic note. With a cry she crumpled and threw it across the window seat.”
WITH A CRY? What is she, five? “Even Sareem has noticed something is wrong. He asked about you; he’s noticed your habits,”
So her friend is concerned, and what is Vhalla’s reaction? “Who cared about Sareem? There were more important things on her mind.”
(what an asshole friend tbh)
More important things like “her” Phantom. This girl’s insta-crushes would be okay with me if she weren’t so obviously obsessive about them. Like with Prince Baldair. She met the guy once and two months after she kept blushing and acting like some love-sick fangirl and driving herself to the point of exhaustion in her quest to help him because, oh the Prince needed her and she wouldn’t allow him to die. I would have considered her efforts noble if not for the big pink floating hearts that surrounded her for the entire chapter. My point is proven when she realizes she had worked to save “the other Prince” and her reaction is almost disappointed, to the point where you wonder if she would have worked as hard had she known she wasn’t actually helping her crush. So yeah. Vhalla, not so noble after all. Then comes the mysterious Phantom and she begins to neglect important stuff, you know, like eating, to study and be able to continue to exchange notes with him. Who knows, maybe he’ll praise her efforts again and make her feel all warm and fuzzy inside *Squee*.
I’m sure her character evolves… a little. I could see some of that as I skimmed through the rest of the book (She even gives her friend a lecture on close-mindedness. Ha!), but it didn’t seem enough to gain back my interest. I also waited for Aldrik to appear before I stopped reading, but let’s just say… I wasn’t impressed.
This book has great reviews so far and I don’t want to deter anyone from reading it, especially since I was unable to continue past chapter… seven. I did spend a couple of hours skimming through the rest of the book because it made me curious enough to want to get some sort of closure. I just couldn’t ignore my issues with the main character and I wasn’t going force myself to care. But again, that was just me, and maybe the problems I had with the first few chapters of the book won’t be a big deal to many other readers.
So please, if like me, you had been looking forward to the book for months, do not let my review stop you from reading it yourself and giving it a fair chance.