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 . . .
Another entertaining G.A. Aiken story and great sequel to The Blacksmith Queen (read my review of The Blacksmith Queen here). My favorite parts of this book (and really all G.A. Aiken/Shelly Laurenston books) are the humor, snappy dialogue, found family, unique magic, and powerful, competent women. This is a fast-paced, action packed ride that keeps building out the world of this series.
While The Princess Knight isn’t “festive” as in related to any holiday real or fictional, I will make a loose connection to the December #TBRChallenge theme in that there are a couple “festive” scenes involving wine and celebration (and a short mention of centaur dancing!). Gemma is the main character of The Princess Knight. She’s introduced as one of Keeley’s sister in The Blacksmith Queen and starts out a bit at odds with her family but is back in the fold by the end of that book. The Princess Knight picks up two years after The Blacksmith Queen ends (with a brief flashback to how Gemma ended up back with her family in The Blacksmith Queen). Quinn is Caid’s (Keeley’s love interest in The Blacksmith Queen) brother and a centaur.
I enjoyed the build up to Gemma and Quinn getting together. Going from grudgingly working together to having each other’s backs to seeking each other out. Be warned—no kissing or sexy times until about the 78% (!!) mark. There’s no big conflict keeping them from being together or anything which was another plus for me. By far the bigger conflict is the battle among the various rulers, finding out who’s behind things happening with the multitude of religious orders, and the family dynamics.
This book is dialogue- and action-heavy. Not much exposition happening so be prepared for witty banter and insults flying around. And action, action, action as they go from one fight to the next trying to stop evil. For readers of the Dragon Kin series, be on the lookout for references/connections to those folks. I also appreciated a couple references to queer side characters and queer relationships.
I feel like I overuse this but I’m a huge fan of found family. In this series, Keeley and Gemma’s family is large and boisterous and (most) will fight to the death for each other. Gemma brings with her a found family from her religious order and a whole new cast of side characters is introduced as the book progresses. Gemma’s cohorts from her religious order also bring that “fight to the death for each other” love to the story.
This made for a quick, fun read for me. I do feel like there was a little more time spent on establishing the romantic relationship between Gemma and Quinn than with Keeley and Caid in The Blacksmith Queen which I appreciated. But still very light on on-the-page romance (but banter and bickering is much of their love language and there’s plenty of that!). I’m excited for the next book in the series!
*Content warnings: talk about violence and death, violence and death on the page, children in peril (brief discussions; doesn’t happen on the page)