I finished this omnibus novel last week. The writing is at times lyrical and the characters are solid–I could see them outside of the plot. Many readers have complained about the shifting POVs–in addition to the three main characters, Freeman adds first person vignettes from superfluous characters. Frankly, I loved that about the book.
!.) It makes the 11 Domains seem like a real world because she focuses on really mundane characters;
2.) Those tales really do come together in the end, as a wondrous tapestry of pain and catharsis and story telling.
The Castings Trilogy subverts many fantasy tropes. The reluctant Chosen One doesn’t have a whole lot power or agency in her world–she’s not really magical. The Big Bad has a legitimate beef, mainly, the ethnic caste system in his world. And the male lead isn’t a hidden prince. The kingdom is a group of Balkanized nations rather than a united kingdom. And the history of ethnic cleansing and oppression isn’t clear-cut; its complicated.
The magic system has a sense of wonder–ghosts, elemental spirits, necromancy and fortune-telling–but it’s also organically built and consistent.
The Castings Trilogy is a unique take on the Grim-Dark epic fantasy that adds a dash of social justice as a subtext.