What I liked: The Order series has just captivated me from the first book, The Order. Believe me, there is so much going on but the core characters have most of the action/reaction. I recommended the first book to many of my fellow bloggers and friends. They seem appalled that the books are so long. I was thrilled because I love the story and characters that much.
Eryn and Enric are on their way back home and couldn’t be happier after all the tricks Eryn’s mother, Malriel, pulled while they were visiting. While I enjoyed the second book, Commitments, I was glad to have the main characters back among all the others I had come to love. The Western Territory, while a bit more modern, especially concerning the arts and healing, seemed laid back but with a lot, and I mean a lot of political positioning among the Houses.
You just have to love Eryn. She just keeps opening her mouth and inserting her foot and to top that off, she can’t tell when she’s being manipulated. She’s being manipulated by just about everyone it turns out. She’s so concerned with her healing and upcoming tests and a few other projects she’s working on, that she’s almost too willing to forgive and forget. Of course with the system of checks and balances, she’s really in a bit of a quandary as there is nothing she can do to upset the apple cart. Well, there is but the consequences would be too great for those she cares about.
Just when Eryn thinks things are settling down, her two favorite people (much sarcasm) come to visit. Her cousin who is now her sister, Pe'tala, is sent to lend a hand with the healing clinic and to teach and test Eryn in the art of healing. The other visitor, Eryn’s biological mother, Malriel, seems to have “schemes” of her own to hatch in the Kingdom. Eryn just wants to avoid her mother, but Mom is having none of it. She’s playing a game to get sympathy from the other magicians and their companions in the way Eryn treats her.
Since Schemes is over 600 pages, I obviously can’t tell you everything I liked or this review would be way too long. Ms Donaubauer definitely takes the action, plotting, and the characters up a notch. I really had an extremely hard time trying to find stopping places. All the main characters are going through so much there is never a dull moment. The commitment bond between Eryn and Enric becomes something neither one of them were expecting.
Ms. Donaubauer as always interjects humor and snark into the storyline which at times just had me laughing out loud. One thing about Eryn, what you see and how she reacts is almost always predictable. Enric, however, is not the forgiving type and when the King uses Eryn to further a plot, Enric carefully plans his revenge.
I learned much more about each character and their willingness to help, use, and embarrass each other. I was surprised by several of the twists thrown into the storyline but one I saw coming a mile away. I just didn’t know how the author was going to arrange the situation.
What I didn’t like: There were occasions where I just wanted Eryn to win a round of the political intrigue. I thought by this point she might suspect how she was being played by the other characters. But that’s also part of what kept me up too late. I wanted to read about the next person who was going to play Eryn.
As always in my favorite books/series, it’s the characters that I love. The interactions between them in Schemes is one of the high points so far in this series. Yes, I know the books each have many pages but I want to go back and read them all over again. I can’t say that about too many series. Now the wait for the next book begins…..sobs!