BOOK REVIEW: Honor’s Knight by Rachel Bach

REVIEW SUMMARY: The second volume in Bach’s sci-fi series raises the stakes to insanely high levels.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Devi Morris has some massive new problems: her memory has been tampered with, she’s starting to hallucinate little glowing bugs and a lot of people want her dead. She has to sort through the mess in her head and figure out who the bad guys are before it’s too late. The fate of the universe rests on her mech shoulders.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: A satisfying middle book in the trilogy; adds more details about the universe and the shady agencies that run things behind the scene; moments of intense action with awesome fight scenes and more of Devi’s brand of sarcasm.
CONS: Suffers a little from second-book syndrome; tons of enemies thrown in at once and who is good or bad changes frequently; Devi makes some choices that left me scratching my head.
BOTTOM LINE: Another great book in the Paradox trilogy that leaves you desperate to learn all the answers.

Devi Morris has problems. She’s missing huge chunks of her memory, she’s beginning to see things and everyone seems to want her dead. Just another day in the life of the universe’s best mercenary.

When we last left Devi (in Fortune’s Pawn), she had gone through hell and back on an alien hive ship and was gravely injured for her troubles. Grief stricken, her lover Rupert has her memories altered. Now she can’t remember him at all and gets severely nauseous at the sight of him. Even worse, adorable glowing bugs have started to invade her vision. It doesn’t take her long to realize that only she can see them. Every attack on the Glorious Fool seems to have her at the epicenter and certain people on the crew are holding vital information from her. Everything quickly boils over and soon Devi is on a race through the galaxy, trying to get away from those who want to use her as a weapon or a science project. Without anyone she can trust, Devi is left alone to survive and unfortunately makes some questionable choices about who to believe.

The story begins with a prologue that was so shocking I actually had to put the book down for a moment to steady myself. It reveals a secret about Captain Caldswell’s daughter that is so horrific I can barely think about it without shuddering. Bach presents a new side of her characters, uncovering new layers and staring at their dark and terrifying secrets. The things some people have done in a war almost no one knows about are shocking. The prologue was excellently written and gave you a reason to really get involved in who wins this new war and what is really at stake. The rest of the book flew by, racing towards the last page at a breakneck pace. No one is who you thought they were and you can’t trust anything that anyone says. Everyone has an agenda, an angle, and an army to prove they’re right.

Devi loses a little of her cocksure mercenary attitude as she realizes that she’s involved in something much bigger than herself. She’s been infected by an illness that no one understands. It leaves her hands black and her vision filled with dazzling little creatures no one else can see. She soon realizes she’s become a pawn and many very formidable people want to study her illness by any means necessary. Devi flees the ship and discovers more violence, more confusion yet no answers to what’s happening to her. Whereas the first book, Fortune’s Pawn, read like a military sci-fi tale, Honor’s Knight is definitely more of a thriller. Every turn of the page brings more questions and more life or death battles.

Soon, enemies pile up and it starts to get confusing. With so many people searching for Devi it’s hard to remember who wants to dissect her and who wants to help her. That was the main complaint I had with this second volume. The action was a little more frantic and people seemed to change sides every other chapter. Devi makes a few poor decisions that left me a little cold but they were understandable when she’s operating in a vacuum of information. For example, Devi flees to a Paradoxian military base to seek sanctuary even though she knows her government is helping those who are trying to capture her. It was a move that had me mentally screaming at her like this was a horror movie and she had just decided to walk into the dark basement where the serial killer is hiding. Come on, Devi! Since this series is written in first person we only know as much as Devi knows and, well, Devi doesn’t know as much as she thinks she does. Since Rupert has removed Devi’s memories of their romance, it was also painful to watch them interact for the first half of the novel.

Honor’s Knight sets an impressive stage for the final volume of the trilogy (Heaven’s Queen). During the course of the novel Devi meets more people and finds out more information that makes her question everything she knows about the universe. People reveal their true intentions and some startling facts come to light. Shit gets REAL, people. I was besides myself for most of the book, nearly pulling out my hair as a read scenes that left me clutching the paperback so hard my knuckles were white. Bach continues to write some amazing action scenes and stage some massive reveals that made me gasp out loud. While Honor’s Knight was a little weaker than Fortune’s Pawn, it still left me ravenous to read the last volume and find out once and for all what was going on. Honor’s Knight ended on a note that was dripping with doom and gloom. Devi, I don’t have a good feeling about your continued chances of survival.