For me the last two books, while quick and enjoyable overall, have rather suffered the open-ended series syndrome. Where the readers, publisher and author come together and create the perfect storm of sustainability mixed with the inertia of sustainability
. I've seen this in other genre works where there is a profitable audience and a relatively broad stage to keep playing it out on.
And one of the main problems is that you get a sort of repetitive overall meme going on that just gets plain tiresome. Simply because the author and/or editor wants to make sure that resolution doesn't get in the way of a strong continuing franchise. Another problem tends to be the lather-wash-rinse repeat cycles of character growth. But Novik seems to do a good job of avoiding that.
Bu the first problem is the one I see and find a drag in reading what is otherwise a flowing fast paced prose and plot. Specifically it is Laurence's endless round of woe. I get how honorable and noble he is. But at some point, not sure when, I went from empathy to downright weariness and impatience. Poor poor Laurence. Despite his best efforts everything goes against him. I like the character but Novik needs to let the man breathe a bit. He just now comes off as a victim and seems almost weak as he bows to the winds of torment. At this point, six books in I want more of a spine. More of a survival instinct. More of a guy who looks at what he has already accomplished and realizes he doesn't have to swallow and shift and humble himself over and over again.
Yes I get the whole social class thing. And the military aspect. But you can have a character dance to those tunes so many times to absolute boors fools and idiots before he just comes off as weak and wishy-washy. I'm not expecting Novik to have him be unrealistic for the milieu she has him set in. But I do want to see a little more proactive growth. She does have some rather sweeping changes in terms of social awareness going on elsewhere. She could make Laurence less of a constant martyred victim and a bit more of a dynamic character who doesn't want until the waters are over his head to start swimming simply because it would be rude (and always despite the fact that all his adversaries and problems are embodied in the height of stupid willful rudeness).
I do know that there are now a finite number of books to the series. Three I think. Though fantasy is notorious for bringing out yet another. And another. And another. Still if Novik has a mind for how she wants to wrap things up, maybe Laurence will emerge as a force to be reckoned with and not just someone who suffers and endless pile-on of minor stifling grief.