Ben Aaronovitch, The Hanging Tree (2016)

Peter Grant, ethnically challenged police officer and wizard-in-training from London, does not need introduction here. I wrote about the series, Ola gently criticized then-latest instalment. In short – we like, but are not sure about the direction it’s been going lately.


One thing to add this time – audiobook is very good. Since I’m buying paper versions from the series’ beginning, I have to wait for paperbacks, to fit them all on same shelf. I hate it when publishers change format midway :/ Even within the paperback realm, most Aaronovitch’s books are published as trade paperbacks, but one in mass market format. Very annoying. Anyway, I will buy my paperback when it becomes available, so now I went to Audible and I got to say Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does a great job.

Back in London. Back in trouble.

Yes, the cover says it all. We get more of the same. And I’m conflicted. Because more of the stuff I like is good, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. It’s book 6 and I think it’s been going long enough for one story arch to conclude (even taking into account that book 5 was a break from the main story). Unless a game changer happens. Here…we learn some important things, but for me it felt like the author just delays the resolution. He could have done a few more “case of the week” books earlier, but now I demand answers. And for the main protagonist to grow a bit. Having his ass handed to him by same people using same tricks…

Ok, there is no good way to do it without SPOILERS. So – if you wonder whether to start the series at all, one – do, it’s great, two – click on the links from my first paragraph. From now on, reading is only safe for people who know books 1-5. And, to think about, first few Harry Dresden books.

No one gets the pacing of a long urban fantasy series as right as Jim Butcher. Dresden Files takes us on a journey with a wizard who starts near the bottom, weak and alone, and systematically gets stronger while constantly making new friends and enemies. Butcher knows when to change the game, make his hero advance in the world and take on larger targets. In his book 6 Harry saves his brother and learns a few things about the big picture, but we are still in the early stages of the main story.

Peter Grant is still a constable and it feels rather silly considering his de facto role as half the UK’s supernatural police force. And the main antagonist of the series is behind just about every case he gets, with the established pattern of you win some, you lose some at the end of every novel. I like Peter, he’s smart, humble, and tries really hard, but when another suspect escapes while he throws sarcastic comments at them…

I enjoy it for the most part, but I believe the revelations of this book should have been given to us two instalments ago and by now we should either have the final resolution or (as I suspect will be the case) learn that the real problem is even bigger. There are pretty obvious hints, but it goes on too long.

And I don’t want Peter to become super-powerful and win every fight, what would be the fun of that, but I will eventually demand an explanation as to why Leslie is able to advance so much quicker. Evade him every time and allowing him to walk away only because of some sentiment. Peter is supposed to be special, after all he is the first pupil Nightingale takes in decades.

A new faction is introduced, female Newtonian practitioners, and guess who is more able, knows more secrets and gets the prize of the week…

I want Peter Grant to graduate, and soon.

To justify my score:

Score: 7/10

I have to add that the book is a pleasure to read (or listen to). And a few of my recent encounters with urban fantasy where much worse. So – I still like Peter Grant for all the reasons I listed in my initial review, but I expect him to do better next time 🙂

4 thoughts on “Ben Aaronovitch, The Hanging Tree (2016)

  1. Coupled with what I think about the previous couple of books it really does sound concerning. By the way, I think we all know that it will be Leslie who will hand the Faceless Man his ass in a double-triple agent arch 😛 So it figures that Peter cannot get any better – he needs to be still only mediocre to justify that plot resolution, which should have happened at least two books ago… 😉
    All things considered, I will probably read the book, but I won’t exactly wait with a bated breath for the next installments… It simply gets more and more boring – always a bad sign.


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