Okay ... I'm a big Lawrence Watt-Evans fan, so this one is hard for me. Ever since I picked up The Misenchanted Sword while summering at my grandparent's cottage many years ago, I've enjoyed his work. I find his writing style simple and enjoyable, and his characters affable and generally believable (seriously - read my other reviews). Until this book, that is.
The Annals of the Chosen is a rather tepid series. The concept is solid - I liked the idea of the checks and balances of The Chosen versus The Wizard Lord, and the way ler played such a role in world. But where this book (and series) fell apart, for me, is with the characters. There simply isn't a likeable or engaging one in the entire trilogy.
I'm not sure if Harriet dear actually read this book - one can never tell from her reviews, since they basically seem to be a review of the dust jacket - but "Sword" as about as simpering, inane and idiotic protagonist as I've ever read. The entire book seemed like one paragraph being written over and over again. "I need to kill the Wizard Lord, but I'm not sure why, and he's pretty good for Barokan, but he killed two of the Chosen, but ..." Seriously - by the the middle of the book I was hoping one of the uplanders ran him through with a spear and the book just ended.
By the end of the book, I wasn't sure why the Wizard Lord deserved to die, I didn't care whether he - or anyone else - did, and I didn't believe any of the characters motivations for doing anything.
The book had a rushed and hurried feeling; like it was being rushed out the door to meet a deadline (or collect a paycheck). Normally, a "sub par" book by a favorite author still garners a good review from me, but not this one. I loved The Obsidian Chronicles, but this book - and this series in general - earns a big pass from me.
If you need a break from reading complex, engaging and truly epic fantasy (like Steven Erikson's Malazan series, or George RR Martins Song of Ice and Fire), there are many better options than this series. I'd look to anything by Ray Feist, or the new series by newcomer Joe Abercrombie. All are better paced, with deeper characters and more flow.
Sorry Lawrence ... hope you come back strong.