Knight's Shadow by Sebastien de Castell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I fell into this second book with no hesitation, read through its long pages with great joy, and ended it feeling so satisfied.
This is odd.
Why? Because despite being a party to a great character's prolonged torture and hellish defeat, I still feel like I came out on top. Falcio has it really rough in this novel. Really, really rough.
And yet, all the humor is intact, all the brilliant action scenes, all the corruption and vice in the kingdom and all the desperate idealism of those few who still believe in mercy and justice in the face of an overwhelming need to get all revenge-y on those Knights' asses. :)
It's a hell of a good balancing act and the author pulls it off beautifully. The world-building is deep and thoughtful and larger than life, but it's the people inside it that live and breathe.
And then there's the whole Saint business, the visiting gods and their inability to shape anything except obliquely, and, again, the brilliant action scenes filled with despair, skill, heartbreak, and sacrifice. I can't emphasize these bits enough.
As a fantasy, I'm placing it right up there on some of the best of the best, but not for the flash of magic or the scope, but for the nitty-gritty heart, the detail, and the characters.
What can I say? I'm in love. :)
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