Honor’s Knight is the second book in Rachel Bach’s PARADOX series. Don’t even bother to pick it up until you’ve read the first book, Fortune’s Pawn. (And you might not want to read past the second paragraph of this review, either, because it will spoil some of the plot of Fortune’s Pawn.)
This series is best described as romantic space opera. It’s light on the science (it doesn’t even try, in fact) and heavy on the relationship drama. For me, the best aspect of the story is the mystery. Our protagonist, Devi Morris, has gotten herself into a strange and dangerous situation and though I don’t care about her romance — as I explained in my review of Fortune’s Pawn, the “love” doesn’t feel real to me — I am interested in where the story is going.
So, at the end of Fortune’s Pawn, the reset button was pushed for Devi, our gun-loving mercenary. She has lost the memories for the clues she was starting to put together and, more importantly to readers who were enjoying the romance, she has lost those feelings, too. She’s been conditioned to feel a sense of revulsion for her former lover, something that upsets her (because she doesn’t like feeling icky) and him (because he’s in love with her). It would have been easier for the captain of The Glorious Fool to simply kill Devi, but out of respect for his friend, he didn’t. Besides, she really is a great merc.
But even without her recent memories, Devi’s can tell that something is wrong with The Glorious Fool. She’s attracting far too much attention from armed strangers. It’s becoming obvious that people are after her and soon Devi is again questioning the activities of her boss, his daughter, and his cook. Devi is also concerned about the changes she’s noticing in her body and mind. Not only is she threatened by external forces, but there are internal forces, too. Is she going crazy? Sometimes she can’t tell what’s real and what’s not.
New clues appear for Devi and also for the reader as Rachel Bach, in the prologue, lets us see events that Devi is not privy to. There is something creepy and sinister going on and it’s not clear whether Devi is working for the good guys or the bad guys. Or, perhaps Devi’s role is to be her own superpower, not merely a merc but, if so, that is not the future she imagined for herself.
There’s plenty of action as Devi tries to avoid being killed or getting captured, all the while not knowing what each side represents and who should be her friends and enemies. Even the government of her own beloved king is now suspect. Difficult ethical dilemmas arise and Devi starts to realize that some problems can’t be solved by shooting them.
Because she now hates her former lover, the focus of Honor’s Knight is much more on the mystery than the romance, which pleased me. This is still the best part of the story and Bach gives us just enough information to keep us intrigued but not frustrated. Every time we think we’ve figured it out, Bach switches things up by showing us a different perspective. I’m looking forward to the resolution in Heaven’s Queen.
I’m still listening to Tantor Audio’s version of the PARADOX series, read by Emily Durante. She continues to give a convincing performance. She was cast perfectly for this role.