Book Review: The Princess Knight by G.A. Aiken
Crikey. That pretty much sums up my reaction to this book. There is a WHOLE lot going on and we dive right in from the very first minute, when war monk Brother Gemma arrives back at her home monastery after a mission and has to go straight back out again to help her sister, Queen Keeley, in her fight against… her other sister, Queen Beatrix.
Now, I hadn’t read the first book in this series, so I kind of had to roll with a certain amount of the information and take it as read, but I actually think the author did a reasonably good job of setting the scene here. The major character we didn’t actually get a proper introduction to was the love interest for Gemma, centaur Quinn, and that did become a problem for me because his only character trait appeared to be ‘snarky’ and after a while that got a bit old. I kept wanting to tell him to grow up.
In fact… I wanted to tell a lot of the characters to grow up. Teenager Ainsley often appeared to be the only one who wasn’t being a brat just for the sake of it. Clever banter is all very well but it appears forced if it’s literally every time a character speaks. Everyone sounds like a smart-arse teenager, which might fly if this was a YA book - but the explicit sex scenes make it clear that’s not the age range it’s aimed at.
Talking of which, said sex scenes felt pretty shoe-horned in, because as a fantasy romance this leaned much more heavily into the action-fantasy side of things with the romance never really at the forefront. Quinn and Gemma snark, argue, snark, fight, snark… have sex. Then he starts telling everyone she’s in love with him and she doesn’t disagree. I was there going ??? did I miss something?
There’s a huge cast of diverse characters and we get glimpses into the POV of any number of them; some of them were actually great fun, but realistically, they were a distraction from Gemma and Quinn, who should have been the focus at all times unless there was a compelling reason otherwise. Honestly, there was just too much story. There are four - FOUR - different major antagonists here, one of whom only turns up at the end and is clearly there to set up the next book. It’s just too many for the word count, because they came in at the expense of fleshing out not just the minor characters, but some of the major ones. It’s a shame because it’s actually a great story, but it needs about double or triple the word count to tell it properly… or some of it needs cutting because it’s just Too Much.
I don’t hate this. It’s a wild rollercoaster of a read and realistically, I actually wanted more of it - but not enough to read the next book in the series, because I don’t think I’m going to get the fleshed-out story and characters I actually want this to be. I’ll give it three stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.