It’s done! I’ve finished the Spellsinger series! It wasn’t a hard series to work through, really they are “easy listening” stories, but it felt like a long time.
It’s a return to form after the diversion through the 7th book (Son of Spellsinger), focusing again on the cast of the third 6 stories with a layer of “elderly” creakiness thrown on top. Really though, chronologically the cast can’t be older than their early 40s so the frequent comments on dodgy backs, pained knees, and worn out fingers is a little over the top. Foster himself must have been older than that when writing this book, I hope he wasn’t feeling his age quite that much!
The story follows the same rambling through the country meeting people and solving their problems motif that has been the series staple since the third book, this time focusing only on one sub-plot. This could have been a problem, but for once the new characters (because, of course, bringing back old characters would be far too dull) aren’t all annoying. All of them are interesting, and the majority have a good mix of personality and motivations. It felt a little like he was trying to cram in a few more “tribes”/species to get them off his list, but it was a good variety which added to the plot rather than being entirely fluff.
My biggest gribe is the continuation of the trend towards terrible female characters. Since the midpoint in the series I think Foster went off women, and starting writing awful characters with only two possible guises – the house-proud busybody or the acquisitive wet rag. Even once strong characters from the beginning of the series are not immune, morphing into a totally different person on their reappearance. In this book the problem is multiplied by the number of female characters brought in at once. What Foster was doing, I can’t imagine, but he does manage to introduce a new group with a different background to those we’ve seen before that I became quite attached to. Of course they are all men, since they are well written.
I still don’t think I can recommend the Spellsinger books to any particular group, or type of fan. They aren’t good fantasy stories, they aren’t good adventure stories, and I don’t think they are good “anthropamorphic animal” stories (although I’m no expert in that genre). I was able to enjoy them though, and this is one of the better ones for sure. I will miss one or two of the characters – but all the best characters left after their respective book never to be seen again anyway so I’m used to that.