Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Paladin’s Hope

Monday, March 11, 2024

Paladin’s Hope (2021) T. Kingfisher (The Saint of Steel)

Paladin's HopeGalen is one of the broken paladins of the Saint of Steel. Like his brothers (and sisters) in arms, he works for the White Rat, and does his best to be helpful.

He was one of the two paladins who survived Hollowbind, and the guilt sometimes overwhelms him.

The good-looking red-haired fellow was new, but was cut from the same cloth as Stephen, which meant that he might well go into a battle-madness that could level a town but would feel extremely guilty about it afterwards.

Piper is a lich-doctor, and often called in to help determine the cause of death–especially in cases that might be murder or might be accidents.

The doctor scowled. “I do not like policemen.”

Galen raised an eyebrow. “I thought you worked with them a lot.”

“How else would I know them well enough to dislike them?”

He has also helped the White Rat on multiple occasions–especially since Bishop Beartongue learned his secret.

“You can watch them die?” said Galen, his voice determinedly neutral.

“Not watch. I’m on the inside, seeing what they saw and feeling whatever emotions they felt. Only the last few seconds, usually.”

When Earstripe–the sole gnole in the city watch–asks Galen and Piper to help determine how how humans are dying and ending up in the river–they set off upriver with Earstripe’s cousin, Brindle, who has volunteered to drive an ox-cart for them.

I remember being dissatisfied when I read this the first time, and I’m still dissatisfied.

First, the story focused primarily on the maze and the ancient Wonder Engines. But we didn’t really learn very much of anything about the Wonder Engines or their makers, so that part of the story felt unpleasantly unfinished.

Second, although I understand why Galen felt so broken, his actions with Piper didn’t feel quite right.

Thirdly, I absolutely cannot believe that Galen would have gone to sleep without warning Piper. That goes against everything Galen is and does. It’s just wrong. And their first sexual encounter felt shoehorned in, rather than a growth of their changing friendship and relationship.

Fourthly, Galen’s actions with Piper just felt wrong, and Piper’s accepting his explanation felt forced. Piper should have been far more offended than he was instead of simply accepting Galen’s change of mind. It all made Piper seem far weaker than Galen had believed him to be.

So as much as I wanted to love this story–because I very much like Piper and Galen as characters–the whole thing felt rough and unfinished.

Publisher: Red Wombat Studio

Rating: 7/10


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