21 Dec 2021

Review: The King's Hand by Anna Thayer

 The Knight of Eldaran #2
May 2014, Kregel Publications,
Print and Ebook 

Like many from his village, young Eamon Goodhand dreamed of joining the Gauntlet, the army of the overlord Eldered. Now he is about to complete his training and swear his loyalty to Eldered and his commanders, the Hands, who uphold Eldered's tight control of the land. Entering into the service of the Gauntlet, Eamon's gifts, particularly his potent Sight, quickly become valuable to his superiors and he advances to the command rank at a speed that arouses the suspicions of fellow officers.

However, Eldered's bloody rule, and Eamon's personal friendships, start to challenge the young soldier's assumptions about what might be true, and worthy of service. And soon Eamon must conceal a fatal secret: he is sworn to both Eldered and to Hughan, the rightful king of the land. Yet he may not forswear the vows he has uttered in all good faith so however he serves, his name will be traitor.

As tensions and military skirmishes increase, Eamon finds himself trusted by both his masters. How can he possibly maintain his integrity, act justly to his fellow officers of the Gauntlet, and act on behalf of all the warring people of the land?


 My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


 I bought this novel four years ago, and only got around to reading it now. It is the second in a trilogy of fantasy novels set a world that resembles Medieval or Early Modern Europe. The King, the rightful ruler of the River Realm is pitted against The Master, a malevolent individual who holds terrifying powers, and rules as a tyrant through his Hands.

Behind the Master is an even more sinister entity, The Throned who often manifests as a voice in the head of any who bear the mark, a sign of allegience to him. Controlling their thoughts and planting seeds of fear and doubt.
In this second volume, we follow Eamon still reeling from terrible mistakes he made in the first novel, and a personal betrayal. He struggles to reconcile his allegience to the King with his service to the Master as a quarter hand, or a local ruler.

I would call the Knight of Alderaan "allegorical", but I am not sure that is the correct term. Its not an allegory per se, although its very clear The King, Hughan Brennuin is the Christlike figure. The author is, by background, a Tolkien scholar, and her books are high fantasy after the order of Tolkien without trying to ape or copy him.

What is satisfying about this novel is that the protaganist actually undergoes developement in the course of the novel. He developed in the first one too, but even more here. Eamonn is truly a man torn, but makes a conccious choice to try to maintin morals in integrity in a world rife with corruption and evil. However, this isn't shown to be easy or without cost. His struggles and flaws are real.

I look forward to reading the 3rd and final novel soon.

Content warning: There is the occasional use of what I would call "British" swear words in this novel, including the word b****rd. This is used as an insult to refer to Eamon's supposedly illegitimate birth, and so I would consider it contextual, but I just mentioned it in case its an issue for some people.

I would not avoid the book on this basis, but some might wish to.

5 Dec 2021

The Debutante's Code by Erica Vetsch: An Audra Jennings Blog Tour Post

 Thorndyke & Swann Regency Mysteries # 1
7th December 2021, 320 Pages
Kregel Publications 

Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes in this new Regency mystery series
Newly returned from finishing school, Lady Juliette Thorndike is ready to debut in London society. Due to her years away, she hasn't spent much time with her parents, and sees them only as the flighty, dilettante couple the other nobles love.But when they disappear, she discovers she never really knew them at all. They've been living double lives as government spies--and they're only the latest in a long history of espionage that is the family's legacy.
Now Lady Juliette is determined to continue their work. Mentored by her uncle, she plunges into the dangerous world of spies. From the glittering ballrooms of London to the fox hunts, regattas, and soirees of country high society, she must chase down hidden clues, solve the mysterious code her parents left behind, and stay out of danger. All the while, she has to keep her endeavors a secret from her best friend and her suitors--not to mention the nosy, irritatingly handsome Bow Street runner, who suspects her of a daring theft.
Can Lady Juliette outwit her enemies and complete her parents' last mission?

My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I signed up to Audra Jennings blog tours and read an E-pub of this title.

Regency and Mystery aren't always two genres that work well together, but I think Erica Vetsch did a grand job with this title, which is supposed to be the first in a new series. There were plenty of twists, turns and excitement in the mystery storyline.

 Juliet began by believing that she was engaged in a relatively harmless treasure hunt, following various clues given to her by her father, but becomes embroiled in the middle of a dangerous mystery. Identity is a major theme in this story, Juliet is shocked be revelations about her parents, whilst Daniel Swann is an outsider who is judged for the circumstances of his birth and held in disregard because of his occupation.

 I think this was explored more with Daniel's character than Juliette's. Although since this was the first book in a series, there may be more character development in the next story. The only detail which didn't ring entirely true was the spying subplot. I'm not sure why spies would be interested in a glorified art theft. Not exactly a threat to national security. 

Still maybe I have been watching too many spy thrillers.

Overall though this was an enjoyable novel and I look foward to later installments in the series. I would recommend this to everyone who enjoys Regencies and Historical Mysteries. 


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