My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When reading a series that follows a protagonist over the course of several adventures/years, there seems to be a tendency for things to get ridiculous - a character who started out as a scrappy underdog becomes incredibly powerful and successful by book 3, for example, or by book 5, the thoughtful, questioning protagonist with realistic reservations about certain lifestyle choices has thrown all thought and question out the window, but who cares, the books are selling so well the publisher seems to think proofreaders are no longer necessary (...wasn't so-and-so's hair black in the last book? When did he become a blond?), etc.
The Marla Mason series has been refreshingly different. I did start thinking "is this where it gets ridiculous?" around book 5 - and it could have, very easily - but instead, in reading Bride of Death, I felt like I'd been given a peek at where it could have gone, and then given a story that took me back to why I started reading the series in the first place. Marla is growing and changing in realistic ways (and unrealistic - hey, it's a series about sorcerers), and there's a pleasant balance between that change and her recognizable, familiar self. It also feels like Tim Pratt is really hitting a stride as a writer, and that in itself makes this book enjoyable.
This series has continued because the author and the existing reader base wanted it to, and the results have exceeded my expectations. There's something special about being able to keep reading a story because an author really wants to keep writing it.
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