**trigger warning: rape**
So I finally get around to reviewing this. This was one of the first epic fantasy series I read, and it was a rather awful one to start with- covers are cool! Dragons! Gritty fantasy worlds! Inspired by Mozart! But there are some major issues in these books that I haven’t seen anyone address, and… well. I need to address them.
Writing was meh, but that isn’t the reason I’m giving this a one-star. Rape was used heavily throughout, first of all in order to establish the antagonist’s character. It was definitely not addressed as the subject requires, definitely not treated with the delicacy that it warrants. Rape. Is. Not. A. Detail. And yet that’s how it was treated.
Second of all, one of the main (female) characters rapes a main (male) character and yet it’s never treated as such. She remains a ‘sympathetic’ character and a protagonist, and the male character- despite being sexually assaulted- just ‘accepts’ it unhappily. She claims to have a valid reason- which, no, there is absolutely no ‘valid reason’ to sexually assault another person. Not only this all, but in showing an obvious rape (he was intoxicated and did say ‘no’, ‘stop’, etc) of a male character yet not treating it/explicitly condemning it, the message conveyed is that women are the only victims of rape. This book, after all, does condemn the rape of females- why not males? That is a dangerous, dangerous message to convey. Men. Can. Be. Victims. Of. Sexual. Assault. And these books add to the all-too prevalent idea that they can’t be. I don’t think I need to spell out why that is a problem of horrific implications.
This series got me into reading epic fantasy, sort of because I wanted more of the grittiness and the dragons- but mainly because I had to wash the horrible taste this series left me with out of my mouth. It’s been a long time since I read this, and I still can’t get over it. No one- I repeat, no one– has addressed it yet, and that’s not a good thing.
It is my firm belief that, since the YA industry has grown and more and more people review books/call out problems, books have improved. It’s harder for problematic books to succeed, and that’s good. We have to spread this, though, to other genres and demographics. When things like this are ignored, the issue is perpetuated.