I read all three of these books – a total of six stories – in a short period of time. This will be a short review, partially to keep the first part spoiler-free, and partially because I actually read these a couple of months ago, so my impressions aren’t as sharp anymore.
The main characters of the series are Hadrian and Royce, a pair of mercenaries/thieves-for-hire. They agree to take a job that turns out to be a lot more than they bargained for, and we get to enjoy the inevitable shenanigans, banter, and fallout.
Each of the six stories has its own, self-contained plot, but they all also play into a larger over-arching plot. I liked this structure because it kept you wanting more without any one ending being too much of a cliffhanger. There is also a set of prequel books that the author wrote later, which I believe have the same set up.
Do these books have the depth of Tolkien, Sanderson, or Martin? No. It has world-building/history, but it’s not particularly deep, and there are not revolutionary of ground-breaking characters. In fact, most of the characters are stereotypes or archetypes. But that doesn’t make this a bad book. It has action and humor and is a fast, enjoyable read, like a book version of a popcorn-flick.
There is one character that I have to say really bugged me, and almost made me knock a couple of points off the score. She is introduced in either the second story or second book – I can’t remember which – and is originally named Thrace. She comes across as ridiculously naive and innocent, especially for what she’s been through. Then after her father and she becomes Empress Modina, but she’s in mourning. Like, ridiculously deep mourning; she’s basically a mute, walking doll for months. I think she was supposed to have catatonic depression – that’s a real thing, apparently – but nevertheless, I found her mourning phase to be very grating. She mostly redeemed herself once she finally snapped out of it, but I thought this was a point that needed to be addressed.