The Red Heir by Holden R. Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hundreds of them at first, now down to a few. Doors that would not open for any key or amount of force. Doors that would one day lead to somewhere known and familiar, only to be completely impassable and sealed the next.
But what they didn't know, and couldn't understand, was that there was one person who had been through the doors. One person with a key.
A couple of my Goodreads friends read The Red Heir and gave it such high praise that I decided I needed to read it. After reading the description I was intrigued by these doors and wanted to know what secrets they held as much as Vall and everyone else in the book did. I'm still not sure I understand why so many doors appeared in the first place or how destroying them played into whole grand scheme of things, but it's a small thing compared to how much I enjoyed this book.
I thought the characters in the book were mostly well done. I only have a couple of small quibbles about them. In the beginning I found Vall hard to like, but as I got to know him and see his past through flashbacks he grew on me until I actually began to like him. Because of these flashbacks I felt like I got to know him really well, a lot better than the other characters in the book.
On that same note, I thought Dodge was pretty well developed. We get a lot of his past through the flashbacks as well and it was easy to understand his motives.
In the beginning, the character Araine was pretty weak, but I found her likable. The thing I like most about her was that she grew quite a bit as a character. Although she started out as a weak, timid person in the beginning, by the end of the book she had gained a lot of courage. [ And I must say when she killed Rax, that was awesome. I was glad he didn't linger around for another book (hide spoiler)] I do wish we had gotten more of her backstory. I feel like I barely know who she is. I wanted to know more about why she was a member of the Talim and what exactly happened to her parents. Also I did find it hard to believe that Araine would be attracted to Vall so quickly, especially after what he did. A little too insta-love for my liking, but I do like the idea of a relationship there and want to see how it progresses. I thought the beginnings of it should have happened more slowly though.
Like Araine, I felt like Evral's motivations and who he was were not explained well enough. Why was he so blindly loyal to his Master? How did this Master start appearing and talking to him in the first place?
He did however, make a good, if frustrating foil for certain people's plans. He was so despicable.
That brings me to Yel. I feel like an opportunity was lost to expound on her character. She is the one character I felt cheated by not getting more of. Chapters from Yel's point of view would have been amazing. In some ways I wish she had been the main female character of the book instead of Araine.
As for the other elements of the book, I think one of my favorite parts of the book were the magic blades and the souls that lived within them. I want to know how they get in the blades to begin with. Hopefully it will be elaborated on in the future. I also hope to see more of the Loren in the future books. We get a small glimpse of a Loren village at one point and the ones living in the pit were interesting. I enjoyed the chapters that were spent there. [ Especially the one's where Lesh teaches Araine how to get around in the darkness. But why oh why did they all have to die? (hide spoiler)]
Overall this was a great read. While there is nothing really new here, I felt like it was done well which is what matters. I think people who like Michael J. Sullivan's books will like this one as it includes thieves and assassins, and the writing is simple and makes for a straight forward, pleasant read with relatable characters. I love reading fantasy written this way. It also had some dark moments, but wasn't too dark which I liked.
It's going to be hard to wait for the next book to be released as I'm already itching to read it, and dying to know what happens next. At this point I have no idea when it will be out. If anyone knows please tell me!
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