Honor’s Knight: review

Honor’s Knight: reviewHonor’s Knight by Rachel Bach
Series: Paradox #2
Published by Orbit Books on February 25, 2014
Genres: adult, science fiction
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Amazon • Indiebound • Barnes & Noble • Goodreads


The rollicking sequel to Fortune’s Pawn — an action packed science fiction novel.

Devi Morris has a lot of problems. And not the fun, easy-to-shoot kind either.

After a mysterious attack left her short several memories and one partner, she’s determined to keep her head down, do her job, and get on with her life. But even though Devi’s not actually looking for it — trouble keeps finding her. She sees things no one else can, the black stain on her hands is growing, and she is entangled with the cook she’s supposed to hate.

But when a deadly crisis exposes far more of the truth than she bargained for, Devi discovers there’s worse fates than being shot, and sometimes the only people you can trust are the ones who want you dead.

Wendy gave me Fortune’s Pawn for Christmas, and I put off reading it for months and months–until a week ago. I have a tendency to do this; being given or loaned a book makes me feel like there’s a lot of pressure on me to enjoy it, and that perceived pressure pretty quickly turns into a weird resentment of the book in question. I’m such an idiot. Once I finally sat down with the darned thing, I devoured it in one sitting, and as soon as I finished it around 2 am, I proceeded to read Honor’s Knight right then and there in a blurry haze of bloodshot eyes and coffee breath. Because these books are really, really good, you guys.

What follows will contain spoilers for Fortune’s Pawn, the previous book in the Paradox series.

Honor’s Knight opens with an intense, heartbreaking prologue in which we learn why so many powerful men have young “Daughters” who don’t speak and are identical to each other, and–more importantly–where they come from. The prologue is set three years before the action of the previous book, and it both introduces us to some major new characters and shows us several characters from the previous book in a very different light from how we’d seen them up to this point. Everything we thought we knew is turned on its head. A good guy does a majorly creepy thing, and then the prologue ends, and we’re off to the races.

Devi wakes up healed after the big battle at the end of Fortune’s Pawn, and for a large chunk of the book we operate under a fog of dramatic irony, as Rupert (yes, his name is still “Rupert;” that didn’t magically change between books. Sigh.) has, with the help of a Daughter, wiped Devi’s memories of him, of symbionts in general, and of the big battle. He’s also fixed it so that when she looks at him she feels disgusted and becomes nauseated. It’s ok if you hate Rupert for doing this; he does another terrible thing early in the book, and boy, is he ever going to have some ” splaining” to do when Devi gets her memories back.

Which is a thing I love about Devi. Despite being a ruthless glory hound of a mercenary, she is loving and strong and loyal to a fault, and she expects no less from the people she chooses to spend her time with. She reminds me a lot of UF heroines like Kate Daniels–while I love both Ripley (from Alien) and Starbuck (from Battlestar Galactica), the similarities between Devi and them are pretty superficial. She is much more feminine at her core than either of those ladies.

In fact, my only problem with this book–and with the series in general–is Rupert. Their relationship hasn’t been allowed to build naturally; it started with lust, then quickly switched to suspicion, then to intense friendship and sex, then to this star-crossed lovers thing, and finally, when things had begun to chill out, Devi’s memories were taken. So it’s all going to have to build again. For a third time. And while all of it makes sense for the story, getting jerked around like that can compromise the reader’s ability to emotionally invest in the romance. Also, for someone who’s supposed to be a legendary warrior, Rupert sure does spend a lot of time mooning about like a lovesick puppy. I find him to be kind of insufferable, and I hate that he does unforgivable things to Devi (he does most of them to protect both her and the entire universe, but still).

I know that seems like a big complaint, but in the grand scheme of this novel, it really is a minor quibble. This is still one of my favorite science fiction adventure series. It’s intense and visceral and feminist, and my heart ached for Devi and her shipmates, who charge blindly through the universe, trying their best to do the right thing against impossible odds. As far as sequels go, this one was nearly flawless. What a relief.

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