I've been up to my neck in fantasy lately. It is probably a good thing considering I've got a manuscript to edit for one and am writing the rough draft for another.
Overall, this is a real good book. Maybe not quite great, but close. It possesses a similar feel to a spaghetti western or an old samurai flick like Yojimbo. Two things ultimately kept the book from being great.
First, there are scenes inexplicably told from characters we don't care about at all. These are minor characters, walk-on at best, thrown in the limelight for no apparent reason. Maybe to heighten tension by drawing out the suspense or to give the reader insight into how a "normal" person might react to an outrageous situation? I don't know. This technique is in vogue with some fantasy authors nowadays. Usually, I don't think it works very well. It takes me away from the characters I actually give a damn about.
Second, the book could have ended sooner. I think the finale is way too drawn out even if Abercrombie throws one or two deft twists. Still, this is a fun read that fans of gritty fantasy will enjoy.
This is another book that falls into the good category. Everything about it is solid: the characters, the world-building, the action. The protagonist and antagonist are exceptionally characterized. What Bardugo does quite well is keeping the reader guessing about many characters' true motivations, especially the antagonist. This alone makes Shadow and Bone worth a read. I might read more books in the series, but I'm definitely not in any rush.
I absolutely loved this series—a must-read for anyone interested in alternate history, YA, or fantasy. Like I mentioned before, if you can get past the jellyfish airships in the first book, you'll be in for a wild ride featuring fantastic characters, a super imaginative world, and heart-pounding action. I'm tempted to read more by Mr. Westerfeld, but I'm hesitant. The Leviathan Trilogy is so astoundingly enjoyable I fear I will only be disappointed by his other books. Then again, who knows...