Series Review: Order of Darkness by Philippa Gregory

Changeling

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Summary: A young woman named Isabel strives to reclaim the birthright of her family estate from her conniving brother. She and her Saracen servant Ishraq embark upon a journey to do so and run into a young novice-in-training, the “changeling” of our story, named Luca and his trusty scribe. They are a part of a group called “The Order of Darkness” who snuff out dark, unexplainable mysteries of the world and seek to use the church and the power of God to defeat it.

Likes:

  • Cover: I think this is what initially drew me in to the series.
  • Genre of medieval historical fiction
  • Characters you can latch onto; each had different issues and ways of dealing with them. This is a good introductory book to the series that establishes characters well.

Dislikes: I would like to have seen more confrontation/action between Isabel and her brother.

Stormbringers

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Summary: As their journey continues, the gang encounters a children’s pilgrim’s progress who seek to find redemption in the Holy Land. However, their escapade soon turns deadly.

Likes: I liked the development of Isabel’s servant Ishraq’s character a bit more; more rounded rather than a cool fighter who protects her mistress.

Dislikes:

  • I’m all for equality, but I think Gregory’s character Ishraq is a little off the mark. Though she is impressive with her fighting skills, wisdom, and loyalty, she seems to overshadow Isabel a bit, which I don’t really like.
  • It was a bit slow in parts.

Fool’s Gold

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Summary: The gang arrive in Italy and find out this new world of moneylending, genetic experimentation, and cultural diversity is not exactly what they expected and may be more than they bargained for.

Likes:

  • Learned about the culture of medieval Italy.
  • Learned more information about the moneylending of the time, which may seem boring to some but I found enlightening.

Dislikes: I was psyched to see the relationship between Isabel and Luca develop, but the ambiguity of who exactly Luca hooked up with at the end (was it Isabel or Ishraq?) made me mad. It seems like Luca and Ishraq’s developing relationship was a bit forced. Plus, the fact that he was even in a drunken stupor and found himself in that situation where he did hook up with a woman, while trying to stick to his vows as a religious novice, was rather degrading to his character.

Dark Tracks

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Summary: The group encounters a dancing fever, a haven of Jews, and a darkness that none of them have ever met before. Weaved with a new interpretation of the mysterious fever that gripped medieval Europe, we delve further into the mysteries surrounding The Order of Darkness.

Likes: They tied in what happening with the community of Jews they were staying with for sanctuary with a nightmare that foreshadowed the Holocaust, however, the fact that this was kind of an afterthought disappointed me…I would have loved to see this plot develop more. I hope if they do continue the books in this series, they develop this idea a little better.

Dislikes:

  • No real plot; it seems like things were just happening and no development of the overall plot—Isabel’s journey to claim her inheritance—occurred.
  • To top it off, two characters who I didn’t want to get together ended up getting together…ugh.

Overall, I like the idea and the history this series presents, but the fact that the series seemed to miss the mark of the main plot of the story made each one go progressively down on my recommendation scale. I would recommend this series to teens if only for the sake of teaching some history about medieval Europe, but I’m hoping to find other series that would be better worth their time and creative energy.

Medieval historical fiction is something I hope to read more of, I just am not sure what other stories (GOOD stories that don’t ride on the smut that so often accompany medieval tales) revolving around this theme are out there. So, if you have any recommendations, please let me know!

Published by Ashley Weaver

I am a writer, reader, student, and teacher of literature and the English language.

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