Friday, May 7, 2021

Paladin's Grace (The Saint of Steel #1), by T. Kingfisher (author), Joel Richards (narrator)

Tantor Media, ISBN 9781705297728, April 2021

Stephen is, or perhaps better say was, a paladin of the Saint of Steel. Three years ago, though, the Saint died. The paladins were triggered into a berserker rage, and not all of them survived. Now, the seven survivors are living in the Temple of the White Rat, and serving the Rat, who has never called paladins of his own, but is glad enough to accept the service of the former paladins of the Saint. Stephen worries, a lot, about going into a berserker rage again, now that the Saint no longer exist to channel it.

Grace is a perfumer, a Master Perfumer by accomplishment, but officially merely an apprentice, because both her masters, both the original one and the one to whom he sold her apprentice papers, refused to put her up for Master, in order to keep control of her. The second master, whom she ran away from, is an important factor in this story.

Stephen and Grace meet entirely by chance, on a night when he's been out escorting a healer of the Rat to his patient, and when Grace has been out collecting ingredients for her perfumes. It involves an encounter with soldiers of the Motherhood, who don't like perfumers, or paladins of the dead Saint of Steel, and it's very tense and unpleasant.

It's not long before seemingly innocent and even positive events result in both Stephen and Grace being in very serious danger of death.

Along the way, Grace is presented at the Archon's court to present a gift of a specially created perfume to a visiting prince. Stephen thwarts an attempted assassination of the visiting prince, and also gets a bit obsessed with tracking a serial killer who is leaving only the heads of his victims behind, while the bodies are never found.

It's very exciting, while maintaining, as Kingfisher says of their own work, a very high banter percentage, which keeps even the most stressful parts of the story manageable even for those of us who might have been going through our own emotional crises while reading. Just saying!

It's a lot of fun, and very exciting, and Stephen and Grace have such relatable issues, individually and together.

Highly recommended.

In this case, I bought both the audiobook and the print, and listened to/read both, switching back and forth.

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