I like to see character development, and there is plenty in this series. I felt I got to know the many main characters. There are some interesting races in this series, like the ixchel, a race of small (about 8 inches) people who are often treated like vermin and can hide expertly on ships. One of my favorite characters is Diadrelu, an ixchel noblewoman. Another favorite is Hercol Stanapeth, a former assassin who turned his back on that life and became one of the good guys. My absolute favorite, however, is Ramachni, a wizard from another world who normally takes the shape of a black mink and who must leave his companions for stretches to regain his strength in his own world. When he uses magic against foes, he clamps his teeth and shakes his head like a mink killing small prey.
One of the more interesting aspects of this world is the “woken” animal. Some animals suddenly experience sentience and language, and the woken animals add a playful but thoughtful element to the narrative. One of the main characters is Felthrup, a woken rat.
I raced through The Night of the Swarm. There is a ton of action, but also plenty of interaction between the many characters. There are new challenges as well as old problems to be dealt with. Not everything gets tidied up perfectly, which I feel is a strength, since that’s how life is. I do feel a bit disgruntled at the ending, but I have high hopes that perhaps another book will bring back at least some of the cast of the Chathrand Voyage Quartet in a new series, and perhaps some further developments will make me happier.
Although I was reminded of The Lord of the Rings more than once while reading The Night of the Swarm, it’s hard for a fantasy writer to be entirely original, and on the whole I find much creativity and originality in this series. Toward the end of this book, I was a little fatigued by the endless challenges met by the characters in their quest, but after four books that’s hardly surprising.
If you like long, involved fantasy set in other worlds, I highly recommend the four books in this series. Although I’m not comparing it to The Lord of the Rings, I do feel there is much for an LOTR fan to love in the Chathrand Voyage Quartet. Now that the series has ended, it’s a great time to start this series since there is no long stretch in which to forget characters and plot points between books. If I had the time right now, I’d start over at the beginning!