I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Paladin by Sally Slater
Published by Perfect Analogy Publishing on May 14th 2015
Number of Pages: 379
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Purchase: At Amazon
Brash, cocky, and unbeatable with a sword (well, almost), Sam of Haywood is the most promising Paladin trainee in the kingdom of Thule… and knows it. The only problem is that Sam is really Lady Samantha, daughter of the seventeenth Duke of Haywood, and if her father has his way, she’ll be marrying a Paladin, not becoming one.
But Sam has never held much interest in playing damsel-in-distress, and so she rescues herself from a lifetime of boredom and matrimonial drudgery. Disguised as a boy, Sam leaves home behind to fight demons-—the most dangerous monsters in Thule—-alongside the kingdom’s elite warriors. Pity that Tristan Lyons, the Paladin assigned to train her, is none other than the hero of her childhood. He hasn’t recognized her–yet–but if he does, he’ll take away her sword and send her packing.
Sam is not the only trainee hiding secrets: Braeden is a half-demon with a dark past that might be unforgivable. Whether he can be trusted is anyone’s guess, including his.
As demons wreak havoc across the land, rebellion stirs in the West, led by a rival faction of warriors.
A war between men is coming, and Sam must pick a side. Will saving the kingdom cost her life–or just her heart?
I was afraid I wouldn’t like this as much as I did, because the ‘girl pretending to be a boy and falling in love while proving she is as good as any boy’ seemed to be hugely popular a few years ago. And I read a lot of them. But this book sucked me in from the first pages.
There is a lot of gore and some fairly icky descriptions of battle with monsters and descriptions of wounds gone bad. So I wouldn’t suggest this for younger readers or those who are bothered by such things. However that said…
I really liked Sam, and I adored Braeden! I liked Tristan and the Uriel’s leader. There wasn’t a huge amount of world-building, but there was enough that you got a sense of how things fit together. And while it has the ‘girl pretending to be a boy’ plotline, it was anything but predictable. One of the boys finds out she’s a girl fairly early on in the book, but it is not done in any way I’ve seen before. The bad guy was also a near total surprise to me, though I could see a bit of the foreshadowing of it once it was revealed.
Sam is headstrong and stubborn, she is also sometimes a bit of an idiot. Mostly because she doesn’t often think before she acts or says things. Braeden is both dark, and a bit of a tragic hero. He tries so hard to do the right thing, but something always seems to go wrong.
This is not a love triangle. Though for close to half the book I was afraid it might end up being so. But one of the two possible loves was never actually in love with her, and she was never in love with him. And I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers, you’ll have to read it to find out who Sam picks.
I loved this book so much! And I’m thrilled to hear it is the first in at least a 2-book set. There are a number of questions left unanswered, and threads hanging that I want to know what happens with. The war, the trip across the sea, if Sam’s relationship with her father changes like it looked like it might towards the end of this first book.
If you want a story that will suck you in and make you read every page, with a slow-build romance that you can actually see growing, as well as plenty of action and characters that are highly developed, you need to read this book.