Realm of Knights was an empowering delight to read. Rich description brought to life a medieval setting that inspired my recent obsession with historically-set books. Well-developed characters were also at the forefront of my reasons for liking this book. This story vividly portrayed the internal conflict of being forced in to harsh situations for the sake of one’s family. Realm of Knights was an advocate for female power as well as gender equality in a time setting that was not known for either.
I adored the main character Reid as she was a comforting sentimental reminder of my childhood obsession with Alanna from Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series. I grew up reading and fantasising about being a strong warrior maiden as a result of Tamora’s books. Realm of Knights started out with a similarly well-written and descriptive tale of a woman’s plight to save those she cares about most.
While I thoroughly enjoyed majority of this book there were however, a few aspects that negatively caught my attention and brought down my overall rating. The mystery entwined with this story was intriguing at first, yet the consistency of it throughout the book without providing any answers to the reader became tiresome. I was left with SO MANY questions, half of which I had formed during the first half of the book. I had been expecting at least some of them to be answered by the ending, to no avail.
In addition to this, a dramatic alteration in pace from the beginning’s action-filled moments to a slow trudge through the middle was quite jarring to the reading experience. When paired with some questionable decisions from Reid, of which I couldn’t quite reconcile with my version of her as a character, I was left feeling a little bit lost. The inclusion of more ‘bread crumbs’ and consistency throughout the book would have made it worthy of the story’s highly impactful beginning.
Characters: REID – Was my favourite character in this HANDS DOWN. She was intelligent, brave and deeply loyal to her family. She commanded respect from everyone she met and earned mine within the first chapter. The sacrifices she had willingly made throughout her life for her family’s safety were commendable. I loved that at heart she was adventurous and progressive. Reid had experienced the freedom given to men and refused to accept any other treatment as a woman, which made me happy! She was definitely not easily manipulated nor weak of inner strength.
PRINCE ACKLEY – Was an intriguing and quiet character. He had considerable impact in this story though, despite his dislike of revealing any personal information. If I had to describe him at all it would be… cunning. Nothing about him seemed straight-forward or genuine. Instead I was constantly looking for an ulterior motive in his intentions.
PRINCE GORDON – Was the fiercely loyal army commander and as straight-forward as they get. He came across as brutish (in a good way) and of sound moral fibre. The prospect of him being related to Prince Ackley seemed almost unbelievable. The brothers could not have been more different. This was a captivating dynamic as their first loyalty was essentially to each other and yet despite Prince Ackley’s position (SPOILER… so I won’t reveal it) it seemed like only Gordon fought for the good of all in the Kingdom.
SIDE CHARACTERS – Harlan was an absolute and utter gem! There’s no other way to describe him other than to say he’s loyal, intelligent and Reid’s supportive best friend. Her other friends Royce and Knox were well-meaning but their attitudes altered for the worst when they discovered she was in fact a woman. Gone was their high esteem of her (at least in Knox’s case) and in its place they felt the need to constantly overpower and restrict Reid’s actions in a way that they hadn’t seen fit to when she was considered a boy.
Overall, this story was a very pleasant read and part of a series that I will continue with. I loved that the ending was not as I had predicted it was going to be and nicely set up some intrigue concerning Reid’s future. I look forward to the next book and hope the series continues to surprise.