Here we are, back again. I can’t say I am super excited about this one. I’ve just sort of been picking books off Audible to find new media to consume. At this point, I want to find content to feature on this blog, but man, there’s only so much not good stuff that I can read in one go.
The latest series I’ve had the… I don’t know if I’d call it misfortune, but I wouldn’t say I got anything great out of this series, was the Kanin Chronicles by Amanda Hocking. The series consists of Frostfire, Ice Kissed, and Crystal Kingdom.
Let’s start as I always start, with the covers.
They’re not bad in fact, I like the high contrast pop of red in the mostly white, and the same with the purple. I also do like the last cover, but I like the first two the most.
We’ve got Frostfire, Ice Kissed, and Crystal Kingdom. The first two books names have little to no meaning in terms of the content of the book. They’re just… there. Crystal Kingdom is important in so much as one of the castles in the world is made of Glass and it looks like a crystal. I was expecting so much more high fantasy with this series
Since this is a series of three books, and I don’t want to spam you guys with the summaries, I’ll give you the first book.
Bryn Aven is an outcast among the Kanin, the most powerful of the troll tribes.
Set apart by her heritage and her past, Bryn is a tracker who’s determined to become a respected part of her world. She has just one goal: become a member of the elite King’s Guard to protect the royal family. She’s not going to let anything stand in her way, not even a forbidden romance with her boss Ridley Dresden.
But all her plans for the future are put on hold when Konstantin– a fallen hero she once loved – begins kidnapping changelings. Bryn is sent in to help stop him, but will she lose her heart in the process?
Okay. So, you might be able to see some potential there, and you’re not wrong. I like the world that Hocking created, it’s the kind of thing that I really like. But, the reality of the situation is that it just doesn’t live up to what I expected, and there are a couple reasons for this.
I’m going to have to come clean. I listened to all 3 before I left on my two-week long vacation in the middle of November. That vacation involved a… well, let’s say around 19-hour road trip each way.
I mention this because… on that trip we agreed that we would listen to the Adventure Zone, which my friend has been begging me to listen to since… well, 2016. With that much travel time we obviously covered more than half of the Adventure Zone.
After we got home, I binged the rest of Balance, the test archs, Amnesty, Amnesty again, and I’m almost done with the entirety of Balance again. So, let’s just say I don’t have all of the Kanin Chronicles fresh in my head.
Also, weird coincidence, one of their archs is also called Crystal Kingdom. That book is not nearly half as dope as that arch of TAZ, let alone the rest of the entirety of Balance. I’m literally listening to it right now as I’m typing. No, it’s not in that arch, that would have been totally cool. Yes, I’m totally obsessed and that’s why I’m so late on this series, I really didn’t want to go back and remember this stuff.
Admittedly, I returned the 2nd and 3rd books right after finishing book 3, so I can’t quote them directly, and there is no way in hell that I’m going to listen to the entirety of Frostfire again, or spend a single dime on the series. So I’m going to have to be vague.
Or really, through a majority of it.
There’s only so much I can hear about a white, blonde hair, blue eyed girl complaining about persecution.
So, like any good book, we’re going to start at the beginning. Some of my biggest complaints once came from the beginning, and since then, doing research to learn more about the author and the series and I learned something that killed my annoyance.
The Kanin Chronicles isn’t a stand-alone series. It’s the sequel to the Trylle Trilogy. So, that would be why I don’t understand the beginning so well. You’re supposed to read that one first. So, oopsie poopsie on my part.
That being said, I think that Hocking could have gone deeper into explaining exactly what the hell was going on in the beginning.
So we start off in the Kanin palace with our heroine Bryn, she’s on her first job and she’s security at a party celebrating the end of a war. You know. A war. And we know that the (bad?) king was killed and now we are all celebrating. In fact, everyone is now celebrating, the entire town of 10,000 people are here.
Who’s the king? Why are we glad he’s dead? It’s literally never explained or touched upon much more than that.
I guess that’s fine because it’s ultimately not super reliant, but man. It confounded and annoyed me to no end. I’ve since found like vague details about what happened, and I’m listening to the first book in the Trylle Trilogy, so I’m going to reference it as well.
I’m honestly going to be brief on this one, as I’m not an expert. The Kanin and the Trylle are described as having darker skin, darker than our protagonist’s, and thick dark hair that’s unruly.
A character asks why it is that if they’re Trolls from Scandinavia, why aren’t they all blonde haired, blue eyed, and fair like Bryn.
Bryn gives an explanation for this that irked me. She explains the following.
“Our coloration has to do with how we lived. We lived in the ground, much the way that rabbits do with burrows and tunnels. It’s about blending into our surroundings. They lived in the dirt and grass and the ones who matched the dirt and grass survived.”
The problem that I have is that this is… completely erasing the Sami people, the native people of Scandinavia. The native people of the country aren’t blonde haired and blue eyed? That’s why people were complaining about Frozen before it came out.
But like I said, I’m not well versed enough to go super deep into this one, so, read into that what you will.
Okay, this is honestly my second biggest complaint. Hocking is redundant as fuck. Not only that, but she treats her reader like a complete idiot. When you write you don’t want to beat your reader over the head with the same information over and over again.
Or to flat out tell them something that can easily be inferred. This is downright insulting. Take, for example, this exchange in the first book of the Trylle Trilogy.
“I’m sorry it took me so long.” He pursed his lips, clearly blaming himself for not getting here sooner.
Wow, the character who is apologizing for late is upset that he’s late?? I never would have guessed!
The Kanin Chronicles is absolutely stuffed full of this. Frostfire and Ice Kissed are the worst offenders. I think this is because she decided it needed to be a trilogy despite not having nearly enough content to make it three books long. Book 1 is only about 9 hours long, and the sequel is 7 and a half. There’s so much fluff and repetition that it basically makes it maddening.
In fact, it was so frustrating that I had no idea that the twist was coming. As an author, I’m usually pretty quick to find a twist in a book, or catch foreshadowing. I absolutely missed all of it because I was so annoyed by the way she treated the reader.
The worst of it comes from Bryn’s observations about a character named Miko. He’s the King of one of the troll tribes. There are a couple things we learn early about him. He’s aloof, he doesn’t talk, he doesn’t emote.
He gets very emotional at the end of book one because his wife has disappeared. He’s disheveled and animated. He knows something bad has happened and is desperate to find her. Bryn is surprised and says she thinks he’s aloof.
Over the course of the second book we hear over and over again what Bryn thinks about Miko, because we spend a good chunk of the book in his castle.
It was impossible to tell because Miko’s face was an unreadable mask.
That’s fine, we get it, he doesn’t show a lot of emotion. That would be okay, if in just a few sentences later we didn’t get the following.
But Kennet was very expressive, often grinning and raising his eyebrows, while Miko rarely seemed to emote at all. Not to mention that Kennet was talkative and flirtatious and Miko barely said a word.
There are so many more examples of this, and how Bryn talks about how much she loves her boss, despite them having no chemistry. It’s just… wow. It’s padding, and absolutely painful to listen to.
There’s a good story buried in there, but it’s hidden under so much hand holding and repetition.
Why is this one in such a huge font? Because it’s my biggest complaint and I’m a dork.
So… I hate a lot of tropes in young adult, that’s no secret. If you’ve read my Vampire Academy post, you’ll know that I hate the rampant pedophilia present in the genre. But there’s one trope… one that I guess ties with pedophilia because there isn’t much worse than that.
I suppose this isn’t a trope exclusive to young adult, in fact it’s far too prevalent in all forms of media and it makes me sick to my stomach. If I hadn’t been so close to the end of Crystal Kingdom then I would have DNF’d it.
That trope… is Bury Your Gays.
If you’re not familiar with it, then let me give you the short version. This homophobic cliche manifests as the deaths of LGBT characters. They’re seen as more expendable than the straight characters.
This particular version of it falls under “Dead Lesbian Syndrome.” Which apparently fell out of favor after 2015, which happens to be the year this trilogy came out. This one sort of also falls under “Magical Queer” has died a “Heroic Sacrifice” so that the straights may live.
Ember is the only character stated to be a lesbian in the entire series. She does have a girlfriend, but it’s never outright stated where her girlfriend falls on the LGBT spectrum. She could be bi, pan, demi, etc. But Ember is explicitly stated to be only attracted to girls.
During the climax of the final book Ember, Bryn, her girlfriend, and the heir to the throne are hiding in Ember’s house while a battle is raging in the city. A misogynistic straw man character has a guard go into the house saying she saw Bryn go inside. At this point Bryn is thought to be a traitor to their people.
So Misogynistic Straw Man demands that the guard kill Bryn. Girlfriend is trying to de-escalate the situation.
Let me tell you something about Ember. She’s a trained fighter. She might only be 16, but she has years of combat training and has been training her Girlfriend in combat as well.
The guard lunges forward to stab Girlfriend for no fucking reason. So Ember jumps in front of her and gets stabbed.
Bryn takes down the guard in .5 seconds after that.
I just… really? It’s clearly just trying to fuck with us, because Ember was the best character in the series. She dies for literally no reason. Nothing comes of this except seeing Girlfriend cry and getting ‘revenge’ on Misogynistic Straw Man for bullying her as a child. Bryn was obviously going to overthrow the evil queen, and kill her. There was no reason for the only lesbian character to die.
None at all.
If nothing else, avoid this series because of that last bit.
I’m fucking out.
I came back for more: Continued