Review: “Charred Roots,” Erik Kort, Lee French

Pros: This series continues to rock!
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

Erik Kort and Lee French wrote Charred Roots (The Greatest Sin Book 6). Seer Chavali and her friends work for the Fallen–they’ve all died and been brought back to life. All people in this fantasy world are born with a memory of being abandoned by their Creator for sinning, but everyone has a different idea of what this sin must have been, leading to many clashing takes on how best to live. In this volume, a “retired” Fallen (he has had his memories of the Fallen taken away from him) is in danger, and the Fallen take care of their own. Chavali and her team are dispatched to return his life to some semblance of stability. Colby, with whom Chavali is falling in love despite their obvious differences, is on her team. So is a newly-fledged Fallen and a couple other familiar faces. Chavali is not happy with how the Princess in charge put together and briefed her team, but for now their rightful leader Eldrack is still under arrest, so she has no choice but to go along with things. When the team arrives at their destination, they find a very messed-up city. There are far too few Guards to handle law enforcement, and there’s a surprisingly large amount of corruption. There are two gangs keeping the city under siege, and a chaotic, destructive cult as well. Then there are some mages out of Colby’s past who have an interest in his mysterious, intelligent horse companion, Karias. Chavali will have to spin her stories quickly if she wants to keep their retired friend alive and kicking!

Chavali is one of my favorite main characters ever. She’s a strong, imperfect woman. She is well-known for being “difficult,” but she has extremely strong moral boundaries–they’re just different from those of most of the people she spends her time with. She has such a strong personality, and she truly cares for her fellow Fallen. She’s also coming to care more about helping people just for the sake of helping–her character growth is a lovely, gradual arc throughout the series. I love the fact that when Chavali meets an old lover of Colby’s, the authors didn’t feel the need to make the two of them into catty rivals, which so many writers would do.

There’s a surprising touch of (cosmic) horror in the presence of a magical fungal infection in this volume. There’s magic, more information about who and what Karias is, city politics, warring gangs, and plenty more going on. I always love seeing how Chavali chooses to go about these things. She isn’t sneaky like two of her team. She isn’t a bull in a fight like Colby. She doesn’t have another friend’s magic. But she reads people like nobody’s business–both their body language and (if she touches their skin) their thoughts, and this leads to some fascinating approaches to things. As usual Chavali makes new allies and enemies as she goes, leading to all sorts of shenanigans.

The worldbuilding is gorgeous, the characters are all fascinating individuals, and there’s plenty of character development and action. I highly recommend reading this entire series!

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