Sunday 19 April 2015

#CBR7 Book 42: "Honor's Knight" by Rachel Bach

Page count: 384 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

This is the second book in the Paradox series, which begins with Fortune's Pawn. While I'm sure you could start with this one, there is really rather a lot of set-up and introduction of characters in the first one that makes this one easier to enjoy, so you really should start at the beginning. It's also impossible for me to review this book without spoiling some of the stuff from the first book, so go away until you're caught up.

Deviana Morris is deeply confused. She knows there was a battle onboard Fortune's Fool, the ship she works on, as she can see the signs of damage all around her. Her fellow security guard, Cotter, died in the attack where something caused Devi to lose her a whole load of her memories. She can find no record of the attack in any of the security recordings on board or in the feed or backup feed from her power armour. Now the sole security onboard, she's determined to do her job to the best of her abilities, but strange things keep happening that distract her. When she gets angry, she sees black smudges on her hands. She can't seem to remember the name of the ship's cook, and every time she looks directly at him, she's hit with revulsion so strong she nearly throws up. She has a very strange dream where Ren, Captain Caldswell's creepy and mysterious little girl takes her to a warehouse where she sees herself, pleading with the cook, declaring her love, only to be shot in the head. She sees strange glowing bugs that no one else appears able to see.

As the danger keeps mounting, Devi's memory are returned to her, and with them, the staggering betrayal that led to them being wiped. When she finally remembers Rupert again, she also remember that he invaded her mind and took her memories, without even asking her, and that's not something that's easy, if at all possible, for a girl to forgive. She discovers more about the Eyes and who Ren actually is. The truth about the lengths the Eyes will go to to defeat the phantoms is terrifying and Devi is not at all sure she wants to help them, no matter how important their quest to save the universe is. She discovers what the black stuff infecting her is and needs to ascertain exactly who she can trust and whether she's ready to sacrifice herself and everything she's ever dreamed of to help save the universe.

Fortune's Pawn was the Vaginal Fantasy book club pick for March, and since I'd already read that, I decided to read the sequel instead. The first book really does all the heavy lifting with regards to world-building and introducing you to the characters, establishing relationships and getting you interested. By the end of the book, if you're anything like me, you think Devi is great and while you're devastated that a lot of her memories are being taken from her, to save her life, you are also convinced she'll restore them and go on kicking the asses of all the people who did her wrong. Of course she does, but it does take a while. Because it had been nearly a year since I read the first book, I shared Devi's confusion of what had happened towards the climax of the first book (I was on vacation, and did not have the first book available on my Reader to allow myself to quickly refresh my memory, either). In some ways, I think that added to my enjoyment.

From pretty much the time when Devi's memories (and then some) are restored to her, the book doesn't slow down. Because most of what you need to enjoy this world has been set up in the first book, Bach can pretty much amp up the action massively and keeps throwing Devi into increasingly more dangerous and action-packed situations. The black stuff on Devi's hands is a virus, which is deadly to the phantoms, but quite likely also to Devi herself. Both the Eyes and those have gone rogue from the Eyes want to use Devi as a weapon, and she's not intending to be used. She's none too happy about Caldwell trying to have her killed and her former feelings of love towards Rupert are now naturally tainted with betrayal, distrust and anger, while she's still fighting her attraction to him. Not that it stops her from fighting him like a demon when he's tasked with trying to capture her.

Devi's such a wonderful heroine, who is forced to constantly reevaluate everything she thought she knew over the course of this book. The action pretty much took my breath away several times. Over the course of the story, it becomes clear just how much is at stake and what sort of threats the universe is facing. There are no good solutions and while the Eyes are clearly willing to kill, manipulate and exploit to reach their ends, it's difficult not to sympathise, considering what they are trying to stop. Devi, being stubbornly independent and refusing to go down without a fight, keeps trying to find a better way through things, though, and it's going to be very interesting indeed to see how she's going to manage to save the universe (because I have no doubt she will) without compromising her moral principles.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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