Book Review: The Spirit War by Rachel Aaron

a1Title: The Spirit War

Author: Rachel Aaron

Series: The Legend of Eli Monpress #4

Rating: 4.5/5 stars!

The Overview: Eli Monpress is vain. He’s cocky. And he’s a thief. 

But he’s a thief who has just seen his bounty topped and he’s not happy about it. The bounty topper, as it turns out, is his best friend, bodyguard, and master swordsman, Josef. Who has been keeping secrets from Eli. Apparently, he’s the only prince of a rather feisty country and his mother (a formidable queen who’s every bit as driven and stubborn as he is) wants him to come home and do his duty, which means throwing over personal ambitions like proving he’s the greatest swordsman who ever lived.


The Review:

I want to start out by sharing the overview for the first book:

Eli Monpress is talented. He’s charming. And he’s a thief.

But not just any thief. He’s the greatest thief of the age – and he’s also a wizard. And with the help of his partners – a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls – he’s going to put his plan into effect.

The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he’ll need to steal some big things. But he’ll start small for now. He’ll just steal something that no one will miss – at least for a while.

Like a king.

I don’t know about you, but that short teaser convinced me right away that I wanted to give the series a try – and it was even better than I could have imagined. The first three books have to be, by far, one of the most memorable trilogies I’ve ever read. There was a high level of originality and it was spectacularly funny without ever crossing over to stupid or overdone.

I have to give major kudos to Aaron for pulling off two things you rarely see done well in fantasy: creating a feel of wonder, and doing so using almost poetic imagery. A lot of authors try to introduce wonder into their stories but it usually comes off ridiculous rather than awe-inspiring. Aaron pulls it off in a cheeky, fun manner without losing any more serious and thought-provoking overtones. She did this through exceptional character development and dialogue and introducing epic world-building and magic systems. I can’t say enough good things about this series. I am hooked, and will definitely read anything Aaron publishes in the future.

Surprisingly, compared to the first three novels, I thought the Spririt War started out a bit slow. Luckily, it was still rich, quality writing, so the pace didn’t bother me like it might have in other books. Regardless, the slower pace can be attributed to Aaron’s choice to expand on some minor characters and introduce some new ones, which means that she couldn’t possibly take it any faster if she wanted to develop them properly. I have criticized authors in the past for telling their stories from multiple viewpoints. I believe the key to doing this well is making sure all of your characters add directly to the overall arc – with each perspectives taking nothing away from the story’s momentum. All of Aaron’s viewpoint characters help maintain this momentum, adding a complexity to the story that still blows my mind.

Aspiring writers out there, including myself, could learn a lot by studying the way this author weaves the story, creates and maintains characters, and describes her world. She brings things to life and does so in a beautifully effortless manner. I will definitely be rereading this series for tips because there were moments of pure brilliance in every aspect of her writing.

Recommendations: As I said before, this series is whimsical without being ridiculous. I find myself recommending it to many types of readers because it’s one of those stories that has appeal for all ages (but for the sake of a few “scary” moments, I keep the recommends to 10+). It is probably best for fantasy lovers who are in the mood for something different. Its also my number one choice when someone says they want something “fun” to read.

by Niki Hawkes

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4 comments on “Book Review: The Spirit War by Rachel Aaron

    • Lol, the TBR is both a blessing and a curse. I have SO many series that I want to read but just haven’t made the time for yet. I will say, this one might be worth bumping up in line, though. :)


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