RogerBW's Blog

For Want of a Fiend, Barbara Ann Wright 26 December 2020

2012 fantasy, second of a tetralogy. Princess Katya and her consort Starbride must deal with opposition on several fronts, even if it does lead back to the same source.

So the first book was a stand-alone, and this one isn't: it ends with the principals separated and worrying about each other. Lots happens, and some people die, but not a great deal actually gets resolved, because there are two more books to go; I assume volume three will have a similar sense of marking time.

The fantasy elements get a bit more interesting, but when it comes down to it this is a setting that has, in the same society, both earls and counts. So OK, Wright is blatantly making this stuff up without doing the most basic research; they're pretty names, and don't really indicate anything more than "this person is an aristocrat". There are some stirrings of a middle-class revolution and the beginnings of a constitutional monarchy, but Team Good keeps falling for the obvious setup of being put in a position where using violence against someone is the obvious easy answer, at which point Team Evil can say "look, the royals are murdering the common people".

The romance is downplayed; yes, the principals are in Lurve, but that doesn't cause stress. So an old lover of Katya's has to be brought in, who might be a good thing or a threat, and the principals constantly reassure each other that they continue to be in Lurve. It gets, well, a bit samey.

It's good for what it is, moving from incident to incident, but I felt very little sense of progress in the overall plot.

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Previous in series: The Pyramid Waltz | Series: Katya and Starbride | Next in series: The Kingdom Lost

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