I’m about a quarter (fifth?) the way into The Pen and the Sword. The romance, which was foreshadowed early in the 1st book, is just starting now.
I’m not too sure about the series yet. Clearly, I am enjoying it, as I’d just dump it if I didn’t. I have tons of new books to listen to (monthly audible credits build up). So I have to say it’s holding my interest. Part of it is the essence of the situation he is in: what would YOU do? Joe is a likable protagonist, though he doesn’t seem to be a flawed one, other than he is probably too trusting, I think. We’ll see if that take pans out as the series unfolds.
The slow burn buildup in the 1st book appears to be the pattern adopted by the author in the second. I would agree that the author’s skills are developing as well.
I hesitate to assign a number score to this as one man’s “7/10” is another’s 3/10. I’ll call it “good” and leave it at that.
In terms of the narrator, I’ve enjoyed him. He’s no Roy Dotrice or Steven Fry, but it’s a likable voice for a likable protagonist.
I think my greatest problem with the series so far is than when the POV shifts away from “Yosef”, I almost completely lose interest. The pirates were the exception in the 1st book, but the Narthani bore me to tears. It’s just endless exposition interspersed with mustache twirling.