While I wasn’t initially planning on listening to the Second DemonWars Trilogy, I found myself listening to Ascendance when next I got a chance. The reason that there’s a hesitance for me in picking it up is really that the Second DemonWars Trilogy is really a different kind of story compared to the first, one that, though I enjoy the telling, I’m not sure I enjoy the story quite as much.
Ascendance, in particular though, was a bit difficult for me to get through – and that’s something I’ll discuss after the jump.
When I listened to that first segment of Ascendance, I immediately groaned – I actively dislike most of the characters in this book. I’ll do a quick rundown of the characters as I see them – top-to-bottom:
- Jilseponie – I like Jilseponie in general, and her demeanor in this book in particular (pragmatic and calm) worked for me. She was the one character that I actively liked throughout this book.
- King Danube Brock Ursal – At the start of the book, I don’t much care for King Danube as I find him too forward and impulsive. Later on though, he’s not as intolerable as he at least acts in good faith toward Jilseponie. <shrugs>
- Lady Dasslerond – Most of the time when I dislike Lady Dasslerond it’s because she takes her pragmatism too far. In this case, it’s because she’s too blind to see that Aydrian is Evil. Wake up!
- De’Unerro – I generally dislike De’Unerro, but at the beginning of this book I honestly thought he was an interesting character, that maybe he had learned some humility from his time as a weretiger. Nope.
- Constance Pemblebury – I actually liked this character in the previous books, but she became a little too obsessed with the throne. In this book, she takes it too far… …Way too far…
- Aydrian – Okay, Aydrian is here at the bottom. From the beginning he’s one part spoiled brat, one part overconfident jerk, and one part evil… …This isn’t going to endear me to a character. <thumbs down>
There are other characters – Braumin and Viscenti (always like these guys), Roger and Dainsey (they’re cool), Brynn Dharielle (she seems cool), Fio Bau-raiy (meh), Sadye (she’s cool), Duke Kalas (not a huge fan), but they don’t really overbalance the “main” characters of the story.
This reveals again to me something that I found with To Your Shattered Bodies Go, Wuthering Heights, Ender’s Game, and (at least the TV show for) Game of Thrones – I’m not a huge fan of unlikable protagonists (especially if they are violent in nature). There’s certainly a spectrum between heroic and villainous protagonists, and there are certain types of less-than-good characters that I can invest in (both Shinji and Gendo Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion come to mind), but there are certain types of protagonists that I can’t invest in and that impacts my ability to invest in their story.
In the case of Ascendance, Jilseponie was the only character I really liked, but I often felt like she wasn’t a protagonist in her own parts of the story. Instead, it felt like she was manipulated by the author and various other characters to further Aydrian’s story. Since I didn’t really care much for Aydrian, nor his story, this caused the majority of the book to fall flat for me.
It may be telling that I vividly remember the first DemonWars Trilogy and Mortalis, and re-reading them (or, really, listening to them) reminded me why I like them, but I really don’t remember anything of the second DemonWars Trilogy. So, I would only tentatively recommend Ascendance as a gateway to the continuation of the saga – Aydrian’s impact on the world doesn’t stop here.