I think it’s insane that Jen Williams still doesn’t have a US publisher.
The Bitter Twins is the second book in The Winnowing Flame Trilogy. I enjoyed the first book, The Ninth Rain, very much, and although admittedly I loved the first book more, The Bitter Twins didn’t disappoint in delivering another great installment with high focus on characterizations, discovery, explorations, and revelations. The story picks up immediately from where The Ninth Rain left off. I’ve mentioned that in the first book it took me 25% to find myself fully engaged with the book, this one—unfortunately—took me even longer because the pacing felt even slower. The first half of the book was mostly setup sections as Williams introduced new characters and establish their distinctive voices. This new setup was necessary in order to expand the scope of the world and to have more variety of casts to the series, and the first half pays off wonderfully in the second half. Connections, family, and bonds were some of the many important themes that can be found in this installment.
Diversity and in-depth characterizations once again became the strongest aspects of this series. I loved reading the distinctive voices that Williams gave towards her characters. Almost the entirety of the first book was told from the perspective of the main trio, I’m happy to say that their roles are still evident and important here. Additionally, we have many more new side characters to enhance the characterizations for the main trio and the new POV characters. I can’t emphasize highly enough how much I enjoyed reading about the characters building a new relationship with their new companions; Vostok, Kirune, Sharrik, Helcate, and Celaphon were simply brilliant characters. I always love when a character has a unique manner of speech or attitudes that could tell readers loudly whose POV they’re reading. Take these two quotes for example:
“Best Eboran silk, this was. I have ruined so many good shirts with you, do you realize that?”
“Get ready, my darlings. We are going to fuck them up.”
See? These short dialogues don’t have any names mentioned but if you’ve read just half of the first book, you’ll know which respective characters are talking; it’s simple and yet so personality defining, something of a necessity in character-driven stories. Or maybe this:
“Just between you and me, I’ve never crawled up a monster’s arse before. It’s quite exciting.”
Okay maybe not this quote but I had to share that one so everyone will know that this book doesn’t shy away from gross moments and you’ll most likely still have a great time with it as I did.
There was plenty of new revelations that serve to expand the world-building of the series. Sci-fi and fantasy once again continue to be almost equally dominant in their role to make the world fully believable. The Eborans history was explained, questions from the first book were answered and Williams was able to include more questions and problems to be solved in the final book of the trilogy. I also want to add that the concluding battles—last 15 percents—of this book were immensely entertaining to read; the battles were exciting, engaging, vivid, and full of tension.
I seem to have better luck with reading underrated books rather than popular fantasy series—like The Wheel of Time or Raven’s Shadow #2 and #3—lately. Although I had my doubts in the first half of the book, and there were a few moments where I did feel bored, the second half and characterizations compensate wonderfully. The Bitter Twins provides intriguing quest-based adventure fantasy with heart. I’m sure that readers of the first book will have a good time with this one and will find themselves looking forward to the next after that ending. I’m going to start reading the next book immediately and see how it all concludes.
You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)