Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Elemental Assassin series - Jennifer Estep

The author's "Big Idea" behind this series is that books should be fun - and I would have to say that she succeeded admirably in that particular goal, because fun is exactly the word I would choose to describe this story. Gin Blanco is a really fun character, and the four books I've read so far have been extremely entertaining. Unfortunately that's about all they are - brain candy. Which isn't a problem if that's what you're looking for - fun, sexy, full of adventure - but doesn't make you come to new conclusions about the world. The big problem with Gin is that she's too powerful - she's a kick-ass assassin, she's got piles of cash, she's got a fantastic backup team, and she's the most powerful elemental around with not only one, but two elemental powers. So nothing ordinary can possibly be a threat - and so the author has to throw some really extra-ordinary bad guys in her way. So you wind up with this crazily powerful character getting beaten up over and over again (because that's the formula - the good guy isn't just allowed to walk in and win with no effort) which makes them seem much less powerful than they're supposed to be...which in turn makes the "I'm the best assassin in Ashland" line come off a bit whiny. Which is a real shame, because this series is otherwise excellent. There's a very decent background storyline running through the entire series. The little repetitive bits which have to exist because this is written as separate novels are short & sweet - they didn't bother me at all and that sort of thing usually drives me crazy. Really, what Gin needs is more people to beat up - she retires very near the start of book 1, and I think that's a real shame. One of my favorite bits is the hit in the opening chapter - excellent little story, nice demonstration that Gin is totally awesome at what she does. It would make the book a bit longer, but if there were one or two contract killings in each book that were just a cakewalk it would make things even more fun.