Friday, August 1, 2014

Review: Honor's Knight by Rachel Bach

Title: Honor's Knight (Paradox, #2) 

Author: Rachel Bach

Rating: 4.5 Stars

*This review is spoiler free for the Paradox Trilogy*

Honor's Knight presents a paradox to the typical trilogy; it defies Middle Book Syndrome. Having read far too many trilogies than I probably should have ever read, I can truthfully claim that MBS is real and it usually occurs when an author has a story to tell--only it's a duology, not a trilogy. Thus, that fated middle book is the source of dragging plot lines, new love interests, and lackluster characters. Bach, however, truly does have a story that needs to be told in three books. As a result, Honor's Knight is remarkable: fast-paced, thought-provoking, and most definitely mind-blowing.

Without giving away spoilers for Fortune's Pawn, all I will remark about the plot of this novel is that it begins in an unusual situation. Devi, our kick-ass, no-nonsense protagonist finds herself a stranger on her own ship, due to circumstance, and watching her battle those around her--but especially herself--in a quest for the truth is enlightening. It reveals even more facets to Devi than we thought existed. Fortune's Pawn does such a terrific job of presenting us strong Devi, weak Devi, fierce Devi, romantic Devi, ass-kicking Devi, etc. that to see her as more than those images is seemingly impossible. Yet, I loved her growth arc throughout the novel.

Honor's Knight moves forward through a series of multiple plot twists. Of course, for readers of Fortune's Pawn, there is an obvious reveal that needs to occur that the reader knows of but not Devi. Yet, even beyond that, Bach unveils the extent of her world-building and the secrets--answers, really--we've been yearning for since Fortune's Pawn are displayed in their full glory. Witnessing Devi react, process, and act on these new sources of information is the main motivation of the storyline. It works. Not only is Bach's world richly layered and morally ambiguous, keeping readers questioning their own set of standards and blurring that line between right and wrong, but it also keeps readers on the edge of their seat anticipating both the next unknown to fly at Devi and her consequent change as a result.

As with Fortune's Pawn, the secondary characters support and enhance Honor's Knight beautifully. All strong characters in their individual right, Devi's relationship with even the most minute of secondary characters carries weight. What's more, Honor's Knight is set up in such a manner that the nature of the relationships Devi has sustained from Fortune's Pawn change. In Honor's Knight there are many more layers to the seemingly two-dimensional and simplistic relationships Devi held in Fortune's Pawn and that evolution is a treat in and of itself.

Of course, the romance in this trilogy is note-worthy since it truly is hard-won. Honor's Knight is the least romantic of the trilogy, strife with conflict and the never-ending battle of inner conflict. Both the romantic leads, Devi and Rupert, must overcome their insecurities and pasts to be with one another and, even then, the unspeakable acts they've done hang in the air between them. While they're both fighters, they're also betrayers, and the bitterness that adds to their complex equation is entertaining, to say the least. Honor's Knight truly made me care for their relationship in a way I hadn't in Fortune's Pawn and the outcome of it is one I eagerly anticipate in Heaven's Queen.

Honor's Knight is not an easy novel to have written, I am sure. It sets up a dark, tragic problem at hand--one whose solution remains shrouded. Although this is Bach's debut trilogy, she is already a master at creating tension and forcing readers to think beyond their typical capabilities. Heaven's Queen will, undoubtedly, be a treat; I am sure of it.

You can read my review of Fortune's Pawn, the first book in the Paradox Trilogy, here.


  1. I remember reading your review for book one and being intrigued, but this has me positively salivating, Keertana. There's nothing quite like a sophomore installment that manages to propel itself forward with carefully-crafted plot twists - all the while maintaining the world-building. Sign me up for this one!

  2. MDS is absolutely real, but I can think of a few examples where the opposite was true (Froi of the Exies?).
    I love that we get to see so many different sides of Devi. I just started the first book on audio, and at first she just seems ambitious and unrelenting, but there's so much more to her. I'm enjoying discovering her.

  3. I'm not a fan of sci-fi but I heard so many great things about this series and I know I really really really need to try it as well.

  4. There's just something to be said about morally ambiguous characters -- they're so interesting and you just never really know if what they're doing is going to benefit or harm the MCs. And Devi. Dang. I'd have her at my back any day! SUCH a great series!

  5. Sounds like an amazing series Keertana, I'm definitely making a note of it. I couldn't be more excited that it doesn't fall prey to middle book syndrome, I've run across ones that have way more often than not lately. Looking forward to your thoughts on the next book, I hope it's everything you want it to be:)

  6. I love that you made Middle Book Syndrome an acronym. MBS IS real. I think you're exactly right that it happens when an author's plot isn't big enough for 3 books and they flounder in the middle. I think it also comes when an author is okay on plot but s/he doesn't know what to do after they've gotten their couple together in book 1, so they start throwing in love triangles or other obstacles for tension. Inevitably this makes me dislike the heroine, and it often feels like backtracking. Few authors seem to know how to push ahead with a couple without throwing in annoying elements. This is why I like slow burn, or well planned/paced series. Also JLA is amazing at showing us her couples together. That's one reason I've stuck to her so long.

    Ok so that was quite the tangent. I'm still not certain this series is for me. I'm less interested in the space, but the human story and relationships sound interesting. Depending on how this works out in the last book, I might try it out. I'm so happy you're loving this though!

  7. I don't think I have ever met a single person that likes MBS so glad this doesn't suffer from it!
    This series sounds really intriguing, I think I need to check out book one.

  8. Yep, MBS is real. I concur. I'm glad that this one didn't fall in the syndrome. Oh this sounds good! You really had me at the romance. I usually enjoy it more in a story when it is hard won.

  9. I haven't heard of this series but I really like the sound of it. I'm so glad that this one doesn't suffer from middle book syndrome and I love it how authors lately have found a way to avoid it. This one also seems unpredictable which is another thing I love. Great review, Keertana :)

  10. I absolutely love books that don't fall prey to MBS (love the acronym) so I'll be adding this to the list. I also like that it's real-I appreciate authors who don't sugar coat the difficulties of life and it sounds like Bach didn't hold back!

  11. Wow. I've heard good things about Fortune's Pawn but I didn't even know that the sequel is out already. This series screams to me like no other and your review, Keertana, just made me want to rush to my local bookstore and demand copies of them. It's interesting to know that this book actually makes the reader think about what they stand for and how they would react in a particularly hard situation. I think that really shows a lot of promise and maturity in a trilogy. Fantastic review as always, Keertana! :)

  12. I hope to be reading Fortune's Pawn soon, but I'm so glad to hear that this doesn't fall to middle book syndrome and that it is just as good as the first. :) I like the sound of how the characters' actions to situations are so realistic considering their personalities. Thanks for sharing Keertana, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

  13. Nice to hear this doesn't disappoint. I put the first book in my TBR after your amazing review so this is good news indeed. I love a multilayered character, characterization is so important to me to really be able to connect with a story. I'm a little worried hearing of this dark development, though. Brilliant review, Keertana. I'm going to check if this series is in audiobook form. :)

  14. Keertana, I can always count on you to introduce me to books I've never heard of! Books that are under the radar but are beautiful gems waiting to be discovered! It seems to me that the Paradox series is exactly that! And when you LOVE a story, I absolutely take notice. I just need to get it together and take on one of your Space Opera rec's. I NEED more SPACE in my life. I'm reading These Broken Stars at the moment, and I don't want it to end. I don't know what I'll pick up after that, but maybe Fortune's Pawn is the place to start. I have a good feeling I would love it! :)

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

  15. It's funny you should mention the realness of Middle Book Syndrome. In theory I totally get the concept, but I personally don't seem to find many books that suffer from MBS in my opinion. Maybe I just don't read enough series? Still, glad to know you don't think this book falls prey to it!
    And I really need to read this soon! The first book did end on such an interesting note - I need to see how it gets handled!
    Lovely review, Keertana! I hope that Heaven's Queen proceeds to exceed your expectations. :)


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