So the War of Mist blog tour has been extended for a couple of days which means I can talk about The Oremere Chronicles even more! If I haven’t yet convinced you, dear reader, to pick up this incredible fantasy trilogy by Helen Scheuerer, I clearly haven’t talked about it enough. Although I’ve written essentially three posts discussing just how great this series is, I don’t think I ever really went into the minor details that really made the books so damn enjoyable to read.
Here’s a quick listicle on my top 7 reasons why I love the Oremere Chronicles to death and why you’re sorely missing out if you don’t read it.
Heroes You’ll Love
Possibly my favorite aspect of this trilogy is the wonderfully three-dimensional characters that lead it. We have four main characters and each and every one of them is almost impossible not to warm up to.
First up we have Bleak, the main main character (and undoubtedly Best Girl, don’t @ me), who starts off the series as a mess of a person, constantly drunk out of her mind, refuses to let anyone get close to her, and overall just has no direction in life other than to get her next drink. At first you might think that she’s a hopeless case, a stone cold drunkard who doesn’t care about anyone or anything… but then you find out that Bleak is plagued with mindreading abilities and the only way she can keep other people’s thoughts at bay is through copious amounts of alcohol. Everything about her instantly makes sense. The way Bleak grows throughout the book series is without a doubt one of the most beautiful character developments I’ve seen in a fantasy trilogy. And I’ve read a fair bit of fantasy trilogies.
If you’re looking for strong, badass female character, look no further than Henri, the queen of the fiercely private and traditionalist Valian Kindred. Henri is the epitome of a badass queen with her cool and level head, fierce loyalty, and unrivalled fighting prowess. If Henri somehow appeared in front of me and asked me to swear my life to Valia, you damn well know I wouldn’t hesitate to do it. However, as great of a warrior queen Henri is, she’s also human, with flaws and weaknesses that she does her best to hide from her people. I loved how real Henri was with her insecurities and doubts. Even the strongest people need help sometimes, you know?
Then there’s Dimitri Swinton who, despite his noble lineage and reputation as an accomplished commander, is an even bigger mess than Bleak. At least in the beginning. Swinton was the character that I loved to poke fun at the most because of how many times he effed things up for everyone. Swinton was such a compelling character because of the things he’s done, the secrets he’s kept, and the atrocities he committed and subsequently had to live with. By the end of War of Mist, I was so proud of how far this guy has come. Tears were shed, I’ll be honest.
Finally we have Dash/Zachary, the youngest of the four main characters and the one with the strangest/funniest storyline. Seriously, if you met Dash in the first book but decided to skip to the last book, you won’t even recognize the guy because of all the things that happened to him. I won’t spoil anything but you literally cannot guess the insane twist that happens to him in book 2. You just can’t.
Minor Characters with Major Impact
It’s not just the main characters that you’ll love in this series. Throughout the trilogy we’re introduced to an amazing, colorful cast of supporting characters that are just as well written as the main characters. You’ve got Princess Olenna, the blind young royal of Ellest who exudes class and grace leagues beyond her age. Queen Eydis is a particular favorite because of her brilliant tactics and compassion. And other characters that are introduced in the later books (which I will not spoil because you’ll have to read the series to know them).
What makes the minor characters of The Oremere Chronicles stand out is that they all have a distinct voice that makes them feel like real people and not just a background names and faces. Although we don’t get to know each and every one of them as well as the four main characters, the scenes that we do get to see them are memorable and – often – fun.
Gorgeous and Haunting settings
Reading a fantasy book, it’s expected that there’ll be breathtaking scenery but the places in The Oremere Chronicles really take the cake. From the stark beauty of icy Havenesse to the vibrant allure of the fire continent of Battalon to the mysterious, misty Oremere – wherever the characters go, you’ll be enamoured by the setting.
If I were to pick my favorite setting though it would be Valia, the hidden queendom in the heart of the forest. You might need to risk your life to swing over a deathly drop but it’s so worth it.
Let’s Go Lesbians
The number of fantasy series with an honest to goodness F/F romance is so heartbreakingly low so when The Oremere Chronicles featured a lesbian relationship, my love for the series quintupled.
I won’t spoil which characters get together but I will say that one of them is a main character and their romance is realistic in how complex it is.
Power of Friendship
Now that I think about it, besides the F/F relationship, there wasn’t much focus on romance in this series. Sure, there were hints here and there but, ultimately, what this series really took the time to build was the friendships among unlikely individuals. And I LOVED it.
As an aro, I’m constantly aware of how much romance is prioritized in almost every genre. It’s gotten to a point where a romance subplot is a given in any book and while there are ships that I can certainly understand why they’d work, most of the time I’m just tired of how romantic relationships are always at the front and center. The Oremere Chronicles was such a breath of fresh air. Most of the relationships in the series are platonic, based on respect and understanding of one another’s pain and experiences.
Moreover, the brief flares of possible romance don’t feel forced or anything. It’s so great to read two characters of the opposite gender interact and get along without worrying about a forced romance subplot. I’m so used to this worry that I didn’t even realize I did it when I didn’t have to anymore.
No wonder I loved this series so much. My aro heart was filled…
Accurate and responsible Portrayal of Substance Abuse
On a more serious note, another great thing about this book series is how one character’s alcoholism was portrayed. Bleak, as I’ve said, resorts to drinking to keep herself sane from all the intrusive thoughts of the people around her. Unfortunately, her constant drinking has made her an alcoholic and for the first half of the first book of the series, Bleak suffered from withdrawal symptoms when she no longer has access to the stuff. Bleak even had seizures once she was cut off from alcohol – that’s how much her body had gotten used to it constantly in her system.
Not only is Bleak’s withdrawal symptoms really accurate, the way alcoholism is shown as an actual problem, an actual addiction, is really important what with how our society normalizes it as some sort of quirky behavior. Seriously, I’ve read so many books with obviously alcoholic characters yet the moment they go cold turkey, it’s like they were never addicted in the first place. They get antsy and think about alcohol from time to time but beyond that they suffer no physical repercussions which just perpetuates the dangerous idea that alcoholism isn’t as big of a problem as other addictions.
What’s even better was how Bleak’s friends treated her problem with alcohol. She’s a recovering alcoholic and even after weeks have gone by since her last drink, the temptation is still there and she’s constantly battling it. Her friends are more than aware of this and discreetly keep her away from anything alcoholic at all times. It’s minor details like a character moving a cup of ale away from Bleak or asking for water when someone offers the group something to drink but I really found it so heartwarming. It showed that Bleak wasn’t alone in her recovery.
Fiore Murphadias – A god among men
Last but definitely not the least, Fiore Murphadias. One might argue that Fi, a minor character, ought to have been mentioned along with the other minor characters in this list but that would have been unfair to everyone, especially to me. LISTEN. I love this man so much, words can’t even explain it. He’s more than just a gentle giant, the bara husbando of everyone’s dreams, the bro to end all bros – Fiore Murphadias is a god. Okay, not really… unless?
But for real, Fi really made the trilogy so much more interesting because he’s such a great character. In literally all POVs, Fiore is described fondly, always complimenting his gorgeous physique, always noting his gentleness and grace. The number of times I’ve read chapters where the POV character heard Fi’s “musical” laugh has convinced me that Fiore is an otherworldly being that’s just chilling with everyone.
If you won’t read the Oremere Chronicles for the previous six reasons I listed, at least read it for this beautiful man. You won’t regret it, I promise.
There are plenty of other reasons why I hold this trilogy so near and dear to my heart but if I went on to list all of them we’d be here all day.
But yeah, stan The Oremere Chronicles and your crops will flourish, your skin will be clear, and you’ll never accidentally step on a lego ever again.