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This is my number one favorite mystery series. It's got everything I look for in this genre: mysteries you can solve along with the engaging characters, minor characters that show up again in later books to receive a more prominent role, great world-building that clearly shows that Rowland did her research, the whole nine yards.
It is, of course, not perfect: parts of it haven't aged well, Rowland can get rather handholdy/heavy-handed at times, and her over-reliance on specific backstory tropes gets aggravating. Furthermore, there's a steady decline in the writing's quality after Red Chrysanthemum. It never gets to the point where you wonder how this is the same series or anything, but once you see it, you can't unsee it, if that makes any sense.
If you want to read the series for yourself, I highly suggest starting from Shinju, the first entry. While the books are written in such a way that you could jump in at any point, they are still fairly continuity heavy. (Another reason why I like them so much is because you get to see the characters grow and age as the series goes on.)
Number Rating: 4/5
Fun Rating: 4 sword fights out of 5 political schemes
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