I read the Varangian Descendants by K. Panikian as an omnibus (and boy, was that hard to maneuver on the subway at nearly 600 extra-large pages!) so I’m going to do one big review of the series here, with some extra attention to each book.
There were a lot of things I loved about this series. The premise was very original, and explored some parts of Russian mythology I haven’t seen even in the boom of recent novels drawing on these cultural traditions. I really liked Panikian’s writing style. I liked how each book focused on a different character (though not all the characters worked equally well for me), and I really loved the focus on a big, magical family. I feel like most magic stories show characters that are very isolated, and it was cool to see the descendants all working together towards their goals. Here’s some thoughts on each book:
Verena’s Whistle: this was the first book in the series, and probably my favorite. I liked Verena’s character a lot, and it was a very cool introduction to the world. The pacing was well-done here, too.
Astrid’s Wings: Astrid was my favorite character in the series, at least conceptually! The fish-out-of-water introduction to a new world is such an intriguing concept, and I wanted to know more about how that affects her! Unfortunately, the execution wasn’t quite believable to me. It felt like Astrid’s level of familiarity with the world wasn’t consistent from page to page, and her voice feeling so modern made it hard to feel connected to her story. On the bright side, I loved the dragon shifters, and that storyline made me very emotional!
The Alkonast’s Egg is a strong series concluder. It thoroughly ties together the loss threads from the previous books, and finishes the story in a satisfying way. I still more consistency from the worldbuilding, but I enjoyed the read!
Overall, this is an easy, fast-paced, and quite fun urban fantasy series. While I wanted more consistency from the worldbuilding and characterization, I very much enjoyed the read!