Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Lady Knight - review

Edited to add: spoilers ahead for the end of the book. Also, trigger warning for violence of a sexual nature, which is related to the spoiler.

Riannon of Gast is an outcast - a female knight in a heavily male-dominated society in a fantasy setting - sort of, that parallels medieval Europe; Crusades against infidels included.

When Riannon meets Eleanor - a lively young widow, sparks fly. The best parts of Lady Knight are definitely when Riannon and Eleanor are together, sparring verbally, flirting, or doing the horizontal fandango.

I'm really really torn on this one.  I mean, lady knight. Tick. Awesome noble lady in love with lady knight. Tick. Shenanigans of a very personal nature. Tick.

Reasonably well-realised medieval fantasy setting. Tick.

Ambitious priestess who tries to manipulate characters to her own ends. Tick.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut we also have uncomfortable religious parallels to the Crusades. It's a completely male-dominated and driven world wherein a woman literally has no value except as a wife with large .... lands, or as a priestess. Ambitious priestess Aveline isn't ... used enough? It feels like there's a much, much larger story that could be told. Honestly, there's enough in Lady Knight for it to be expanded into a trilogy. Romance! Ambitious priestesses! War! Magic swords!

Ultimately, it feels rushed and, after finishing it last night, I'm still mad at the last 40 pages or so. I get that there needed to be some kind of crisis to push Riannon to act in a way that wasn't contradictory to her character (Riannon is big on honour) but did it have to be that? IS THERE NOT ENOUGH OF THAT ALREADY?

"That" is rape. In the last 40 pages or so, Eleanor is raped by her son in law, and that's the crisis that sparks Riannon's change of heart. Which. Okay. It had to be extreme, but I'm so, so, so disappointed to see that particular plot device in a book by  a lady about ladies.

We should be able to do better than that.

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