Man, was this a depressing book. I cringed a bit each time the main character was reminded that her ideal peaceful life was completely shattered. And it's mentioned every single time it can possibly be worked into a conversation. Or situation. You'd be reminded of it even when nobody was talking.
I'd say you get reminded of the tragedy that befell Caina almost as often as you do that she shouldn't fight fair, because she's a small woman.
I mean, I understand these sort of books. The story's political system takes on dated ideas about women. A lot of books do. But this book spent a lot of time trying to make Caina a strong, independent female character. Let's take a look at how that went, shall we?
Caina's a voracious reader, and incredibly smart. She notices insane amounts of detail. She manages to fend off magical attacks that bend the will of countless others around her. She escapes her cell after months of torture, and refuses to give the necromancer who enslaved her the satisfaction of her losing all hope. Yet she only decides to join up with the Ghosts to avenge her father because she can't live her lifelong dream of getting married and having kids.
And you're reminded of that fact. Constantly.
The not fighting fair bit didn't bother me as much, compared to that. Her teachers did say that she'd never be as strong as a man, but the entire principal of the Ghosts was to fight smart, not strong. The fighting style is made for people who aren't bulky. So I was fine with the fifty times that was pointed out.
Aside from that, I very much enjoyed this book. The villain did seem a bit "Mwahahaha", but the descriptions of the necromancy spells were so thought-out and evil that I could look past the mustache-twirling, and take the necromancer seriously as a villain. Those were the best bits of the book, in my opinion.
I guess I'll check out the sequel...not at the top of my "to read" list, but worth a look, at least.