Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Rogue's Home and Player's Ruse by Hilari Bell
As some of you know I am a fan of buying random books that catch my fancy. In one such binge I purchased the first book of the Farsala series by Hilari Bell. I was pleased enough with what I found to buy the rest of that series and the first book of her new Knight and Rogue series. I quite enjoyed the characters and the story, but sadly there was only one book currently out in the series. Six years passed and I forgot about the author and this series until it came time to reorganize my books. During this Herculean task I came across these abandoned books and my interest in the series was rekindled. I did a quick search and I found that there were two new tales to be had, Rogue's Home and Player's Ruse. I realize that many of you have not read the first book so I will do my best to keep spoilers of that novel out of my review.
To help you understand the story I will give the background of the characters from the first novel. Michael has taken it upon himself to revive a dead tradition and vows to become a knight errant. He takes his indebted man Fisk and makes him his squire. Michael is a good man (well, a man in a few years at least) and wants to be able to help those in need. He does not want to be forced into the role of his brother's steward just because he is the fourth born son. Michael and Fisk go on a quest for justice and end up getting surprised by the results. Michael "the knight errant" and "his squire" Fisk are heading back to Michael's home to face the disappointment of his father, who would do just about anything to have his son give up his ridiculous ideals and come home.
As they arrive in town Fisk receives a letter from the home he had left years before. The letter gave him no details, but it appeared that his family was in dire straits. Michael faced his father's wrath and was left the worse for it, but he soldiers on. In an attempt to protect his friend Fisk leaves in the night to take care of his family, but as would any honorable man Michael follows him to help the best he can. As the two arrive in town they find themselves embroiled in an investigation to clear a good man's name, but they find that as they try to clear this man's name they become the targets themselves.
This novel was written for a young adult audience, but I found that it held my attention as well. One of the unique things about this author is the way that she presents the material. The novel is written in the first person, but each chapter switches between the main characters. It took me a second to get used to it, but once I did I came to enjoy the differences in narrative that they each presented. The book does not have an intricate plot, but there is enough misdirection and foreshadowing to make it a fun read. The banter between the two was not quite the same as in the first one and I missed it a bit, but you can tell that the author loves writing about the characters and that goes a long way. If you want to read a lighthearted buddy adventure/mystery set in a fantasy world I would recommend this series for sure.
Rating 4/5 Stars
A year and a half after the events of Rogue's Home we find that the duo have been keeping a fairly low profile and have set themselves up in a small town. This all changes when the object of Michael's unrequited love comes calling for help. As noble men are wont to do (especially ones in love), he promises her that they will help her in her quest. As they arrive at their destination a bizarre twist of fate forces them into a small group of travelling players. They go about their duties the best they can, but it soon becomes apparent that someone means them ill.
Once again the two friends have found themselves caught in the middle of a mystery/adventure. The knight errant would have it no other way since it is what his duty demands of him (much like a young Frederic from Pirates of Penzance). They race to find out who is involved in the plot before any more life is lost, especially their own.
I really enjoyed this young adult novel. I felt that the banter between the two was closer to the level in the first book. I felt that the plot of this book was more engaging than that of the second book (even though the plot of the second one wasn't bad). It introduces some new interesting characters and it works on showing the growth of the two leads. I thought that this novel was well done and I look forward to continuing this series when the next book comes out.
Rating 4/5 Stars