Review: Honor’s Knight by Rachel Bach

HonorHonor’s Knight’ picks up the story of Deviana Morris right where we left off. To recap, Devi is a mercenary with big plans and a stint aboard the Glorious Fool might just help her skip a few steps on her climb to the pinnacle of her career, an invitation to be a Devastator, one of the Paradoxian king’s elite guard. Soon after she signs on with the infamous Captain Caldswell, however, she learns that there’s a reason very few mercs have survived this particular short cut—and why the walls and bulkheads of the Fool are pockmarked with old bullet scars. Caldswell isn’t what he appears. Neither is his daughter, nor his cook.

The theme of thinly veneered secrets continues in Honor’s Knight. Devi has little memory of the climactic event that left her without a partner and a serious revulsion toward Rupert Charkov, the cook. Conversely, he seems fascinated by her. She catches him watching her at every opportunity. To those of us who read the first book, ‘Fortune’s Fool’, these scenes are mildly wrenching. Okay, a bit more than mildly; there’s a love story buried under all the action-packed science fiction.

Memory issues aside, Devi is still seeing ghostly bugs, or what turn out to be Phantoms, and the crew of the Fool continue to be not who they are supposed to be. Caldswell is so obviously not a trader. What is he? You’ll have to read to find out! His connection to the Paradoxian throne—his Royal Warrant—is real enough, however, and the reason why is the big shocker in this novel.

The definition of enemies and allies shifts quickly in ‘Honor’s Knight’. Rachel Bach also makes good use of the adage: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. In short, once she learns several painful truths, Devi has to figure out who to trust and what to do next. Her honour and conviction will be her guide here.

It’s difficult to talk about the plot of a sequel that builds off the secrets revealed in the first book. For that reason, I’ll leave my summary vague and talk about what I liked and didn’t like about the book.

There is very little I didn’t like. Some of the traveling around in ‘Honor’s Knight’ felt a little pointless, as if Bach needed to fill space between revelations. But the action reads smoothly, as always, and Devi’s frank point of view is still a joy.

Devi makes these books. She’s the strong female lead women want to read, but she’s not so tough she loses all femininity. She has foibles and flaws, many of which she cheerfully acknowledges. I’ve read enough positive reviews throughout the community to know she appeals to the guys, too. In short, she’s a great, well rounded character, and makes a perfect lead into the story.

Honor’s Knight’ a solid entry in the series. It’s definitely a sequel. The plot might make sense to a newcomer, but the questions would outweigh the revelations, in my opinion. There is little need to come to this book without reading the first, however, as both read quickly and well. I’m looking forward to the conclusion, ‘Heaven’s Queen’, due out April 22, 2014.

Written for SFCrowsnest.

Review: Fortune’s Pawn

œFortune's PawnFortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach.

A book that captures the reader on the first page is rare. Fortune’s Pawn had me pretty much at the first sentence. The voice of Deviana Morris, Paradoxian mercenary, is personable and compelling. I fell immediately into her world and eagerly followed her adventures. Thankfully, a reader is only a bystander, because Devi gets beaten up a lot. That’s the life of a mercenary, right?

Devi Morris has always been fascinated by power armour and, from a young age, she knows what she wants to be a Devastator, one of the King’s elite guard. Proving herself can be a long and bloody exercise, though, and mercenaries don’t enjoy long life expectancies. Devi needs a short cut. She quits her job with the Blackbirds (a mercenary outfit) and takes on a guard position with the Glorious Fool. Rumour has it a year aboard the Fool will bring her to the attention of the right people. But first, she has to survive that year. Captain Brian Caldswell seems to go through guards, as in they die. A lot.

The inside of the ship looks like a war zone. Devi can see the scars of multiple battles. She also catches sight of the handsome cook. She’s a girl who thrives on danger, so the good-looking Rupert is an added bonus. He’s got a secret, though. In fact, the entire crew aren’t what they seem, including the captain. A few days in, it’s adventure time!

Fortune’s Pawn is a great mix of Science Fiction adventure and romance. I really enjoyed the story. It’s well written and very easy to read. Devi is utterly engaging and the other characters are all interesting. Under all that is a mystery involving aliens (my favourite kind!) and over the top are Devi’s own ambitions. Rachel Bach weaves it all together with ease.

The rest of the Paradox trilogy, Honor’s Knight and Heaven’s Queen, is due for publication early 2014. I hope the trend of publishing a trilogy within such a short time frame continues. It’s great for readers and I can only imagine it’s great for the author and publisher as well.

Rachel Bach also writes under the name Rachel Aaron and is best known for The Legend of Eli Monpress.

Written for and originally posted at SFCrowsnest.