Deviana “Devi” Morris is an armored mercenary who dreams of becoming a Devastator, which is why she takes a job on Brian Caldswell’s ship, the most notoriously dangerous job for a merc. But even though Devi’s a tough nut to crack, being in Caldswell’s employment may prove to be her undoing.
Regulars may recall I reviewed the first book in Rachel Bach’s Paradox trilogy, FORTUNE’S PAWN, last November. The first novel in the trilogy, while fun and adventurous, wasn’t quite what I was looking for as a novel, and I felt the characterization of anyone who wasn’t the protagonist wasn’t quite up to par.
I can happily report that the other two books in this trilogy totally rectified that issue. Both HONOR’S KNIGHT and HEAVEN’S QUEEN add layers to established characters and introduce complex new ones while maintaining a fun and action-oriented tone, in many ways more so than the first book.
The world-building of the Paradox trilogy also developed more smoothly through the books. What started out as shaky and a little dubious led to a better understanding in later books that the world seems dubious because it’s dubious even to those living within it. That doubt makes the characters who appear in HONOR’S KNIGHT especially interesting, as they clarify a lot about the in-book universe.
Devi’s development throughout the trilogy is excellent. While she’s a great warrior and an excellent mercenary, she isn’t exactly the brightest one – something she acknowledges in the story. That’s possibly my favorite thing about Devi: she has several flaws, all of them realistic for the type of life she’s chosen to lead, and not only does she acknowledge them, she also succeeds in changing many of them by the end of the series. Devi is a great protagonist for readers of YA science fiction who want to move into adult science fiction: while she’s an adult who makes adult decisions, she’s still in the process of developing into maturity.
FORTUNE’S PAWN is a bit of a rough start, and it leaves a number of questions the reader may or may not be curious enough to pursue answering. However, the twist ending is enough to bring readers on the cusp of interest to book two, just to see where all this is going.
Fortune’s Pawn: 3.5 out of 5 stars
HONOR’S KNIGHT is, in my opinion, the best of the three, encompassing the most interesting developments of the protagonist and the world-building. It answers a number of interesting questions, and the carryover of the twist from FORTUNE’S PAWN is extremely interesting. This book also scales back on the romance, which was a little too sugary-sweet in the first book, to make way for the more interesting adventure part of the novel.
Honor’s Knight: 4 out of 5 stars
HEAVEN’S QUEEN is an incredibly satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. The book brings the romance of the series back into play without making it too cute, and Devi’s character development matures in an equally satisfying way. Starting with Devi on the run, the novel is fast-paced, exciting, and a book a reader won’t be able to put down.
Heaven’s Queen: 4 out of 5 stars