Book: “The Princess Knight” by G.A. Aiken
Publishing Info: Kensington, November 2020
Where Did I Get this Book: NetGalley!
Book Description: Gemma Smythe dedicated her life to the glory of battle. With her fellow War Monks, she worshipped the war gods, rained destruction on her enemies, and raised the dead when the fancy took her. Until her sister Keeley became the prophesied Blacksmith Queen, and Gemma broke faith with her order to journey to the Amichai Mountain and fight by Keeley’s side.
The Amichai warriors are an unruly, never-to-be-tamed lot, especially their leader-in-waiting, Quinn. But when the War Monks declare support for Gemma’s ruthless younger sister Beatrix, the immaturity of her key ally is the least of Gemma’s problems. She has to get to the grand masters, dispel their grudge against her, and persuade them to fight for Keeley and justice. If her conviction can’t sway them, perhaps Quinn’s irritating, irreverent, clearly unhinged, ferocity will win the day . . .
Previously Reviewed: “The Blacksmith Queen”
Review: I read “The Blacksmith Queen” a few years ago and enjoyed it well enough for the wacky thing it was: a fantasy, romance, kind of comedy, kind of urban fantasy, bizarre little story. I hadn’t read anything else by the author, so I really didn’t know what I was getting into. But I did like the main characters, especially Keely, and usually that’s enough for me to want to continue on with a series. I requested this sequel quite a while ago and only got around to it recently, however. I’m glad I finally did though, because I thought it was a lot of fun!
Gemma has always been a warrior, fighting her elite force of monks. But her loyalties are tested and refocused when her sister becomes the fabled Queen. But the War Monks don’t follow her, instead choosing her younger, and more brutal, younger sister. But Keely’s efforts need their support, and it is up to Gemma to persuade them back. Perhaps, she wonders, they will respond better to someone equally unhinged? Perhaps the infuriatingly handsome and unruly fighter, Quinn? With so much at stake, Gemma must find a way to bridge these divides and bring aid to her sister’s fight.
As I said, I hadn’t read this author’s previous series (same world), so I wasn’t familiar with out multiple books in the same story really operated. I was pleased to find that this one continued forward with having several POV characters and that, most importantly, Keely still featured heavily as a main character herself. I was excited to read about Gemma, of course, but I wasn’t looking forward to totally forgoing Keely who I’d liked so much in the first book and who, being queen, still had a large role to play going forward.
The characters, overall, still remain my favorite part of this story. I was particularly interested in reading Gemma’s story and her attempts to balance her loyalties between her sister, the queen, the fighting force of monks that she had been fully committed to prior to the last story. Her history around the worship of the death god that the warrior monks serve was also very interesting, as well as, of course, their practice of raising the dead. I did struggle a bit to become fully invested in Gemma’s story, however, because Keely was still such a presence in this book, and I knew her a bit better. But I did enjoy the fact that Gemma was distinctly her own character. She was much more wary and paranoid than her more trusting and accepting sister, something that I think works with her warrior’s background.
The romance also takes a back seat in this book. I enjoyed it well enough, but it was definitely not the most compelling part of the story. They had decent chemistry, but there wasn’t a lot of spark, more just a steady burn of comradery that turns into a relationship at one point. I like this kind of love arch, too, so I was ok with it. But, like I said, if you’re tuning in for a sparkling romance, this probably isn’t it. Instead, the story focuses much more heavily on the battles and political maneuvers that Keely and her force must employ to protect her queenship from the various other heirs who are still hoping to unseat her. These action-packed scenes were a blast, and the story really felt like it was on its most solid footing during these points.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Perhaps a bit more than the first, even, just because I knew a bit better what to expect from it. I was also pleased with Gemma as a new character, while also not having to give up my beloved Keely, which I took as a big win. Fans of this author and her work are sure to enjoy this one!
Rating 8: Light on the romance, but it compensates with a fast-moving, action-packed story.
“The Princess Knight” isn’t on any Goodreads lists, but it should be on Badass Female Leads!
Find “The Princess Knight” at your library using WorldCat!