I read the first few of Jennifer Estep's "Elemental Assassin" series, carried along by the originality of the ideas and some of the character building. Eventually, I put them aside because there was so much repetition, even within the same book.
I picked up "Kill The Queen", the first book in the "Crown Of Shards" series because it had good reviews, a great cover and I really WANTED to like Jennifer Estep^s books.
The start felt a little slow but I think, in retrospect, it was just laying necessary groundwork. Once the action started, I couldn't put this down. The world being imagined here is a sort of fairytale environment except with all the blood and guts split by real weapons and all the poisonous politics of real courts. There's magic and creatures that morph, gladiators who fight to the death and vicious royals. And at the centre of all this is an engaging woman, filled with rage, that we can all cheer for.
Part Two of the book tripped my geek switch. It's called Black Swan so I immediately assumed that it was going to be about a statistically unlikely event that has a strong impact and is then rationalised away - yep, that's how geeky I've become) so I was surprised when It turned out that the title referred to: the name of a gladiator troupe, the name of a gladiator, and two actual black swans. Although the other definition does seem to apply.