The Princess Knight // by G.A. Aiken
I was really looking forward to this title and was thrilled to receive it. I also received a print ARC for it through BookishFirst, which convinced me to buy the first book in print as well to have them together on my shelf. I hate to say it but sometimes the reality just doesn't meet our expectations and this is one of those times. I have never DNFed an ARC before but I guess there is a first time for everything. I tried to finish it before writing my review but at 64%, I just could not continue anymore. Since I did read the entire first book and more than half of this one, I do feel confident that the issues I had so far will probably continue through the rest, which is why I chose to review rather than mark it as 'Will not Review.'
I do want to start out by saying that I love the premise for this series. The idea of two sisters both becoming queens and fighting against each other with one being a blacksmith previously and the other a bookworm was very intriguing to me. I also liked that there were so many different types of characters present, from humans to elves, centaurs to dragons, warriors to dwarves. I enjoy a mixed cast and seeing how they get along or fight amongst each other.
All that though wasn't enough to keep me interested. There were just too many things that I struggled with that didn't allow me to enjoy this book. My top issue probably is that the cast is - simply put - ridiculously immature. Honestly, the only characters I can think of that aren't either that or over the top in some other way are Beatrix and the king's mother. They are calculating and seem to use their brains more rather than letting feelings guide all of their actions. Doing the latter isn't something that's always an issue for me but when it leads to constant arguments, cursing at people, physically fighting with your allies, and letting it distract you from your mission? It's just too much. I don't mind a bit of cursing but it is constantly present and over the top in ways that aren't necessary. The author relied on it so much that for a while I was wondering if this was supposed to be a comedic fantasy that wanted to make fun of the genre rather than a romantic fantasy. She also relied way too heavily on dialogue, but rather than using that to propel the story forward, it's just more bickering between the characters that are supposed to be on the same side over things that aren't even that important half the time. It seemed as if muscles and a loudmouth were the only things most of the characters relied on.
I also didn't enjoy that there didn't seem to be much structure to the societies apart from some being royalty and others not. There was no respect between any of the characters, no expectations of how to act in front of those deemed higher in society than others, or any other structures you would expect in these situations. There is cursing at generals, cursing at queens, cursing at family members, cursing at those you want to build alliances with, and on and on and on with absolutely zero consequences for that type of behavior.
But one of the biggest issues I had with this book as well as the first one was that everything just seemed either way too easy or super unrealistic. Why are we so worried about Beatrix when these characters are able to beat countless soldiers on their own without much backup? They seem to be able to beat dragons, huge armies, and other foes so easily that Beatrix really shouldn't be much of a problem to be honest. And when people can jump off a 60-foot cliff onto the back of a soldier and fight as if it was no big deal, they must obviously be indestructible. A horse growing giant tusks to impale enemies on? How convenient! Everything just was so easy and convenient to the good guys that there wasn't any anticipation or worrying left that made me want to continue reading because I already knew they would succeed at everything with barely a scratch.
I've enjoyed other books of hers in the past but just really could not get with this one. There do seem to be a lot of people that enjoyed it though so I'm glad for that. We can't all like every book. I do have to say I'll miss the wolves from hell. Those were probably my favorite characters.