Monday, September 12, 2022

Paladin's Hope (The Saint of Steel #3), by T. Kingfisher (author), Joel Richards (narrator)

Tantor Media, ISBN 9788765012147, May 2022

Piper is the lich-doctor--effectively, the medical examiner for a district of the city of Archon's Glory. He played a role in the investigation of the "smooth men," who were leaving headless bodies around for unclear reasons. 

Galen is one of the surviving Paladins of the Saint of Steel, a god who died, leaving his paladins to run berserk for just long enough that only seven of them are left alive. They're now in the service of the Temple of the White Rat. Galen is recently returned from a mission in which he played a mostly secondary role in the final resolution of the "smooth men" problem.

Piper and Galen find each other extremely attractive, and are each certain it's just hopeless, for different reasons. What draws time together into a new investigation is a new set of mysterious deaths, several bodies found floating in the river, each killed in different and hard to explain ways.

It's the gnole, Earstripe, after he's dismissed from the city guard, who recruits Galen and Piper to backtrack the corpses to their likely source, and attempt to find the killer. This, of course, forces the two into prolonged contact where they can drive themselves, Earstripe, and others batty with their mooning over each other while refusing to act on the attraction. That's hardly their only problem, though, as backtracking to the source of the corpses leads them to a harmless-seeming madman and labyrinth of deadly traps.

In the course of the story, we also learn more about the status of gnoles in human society. They do quite a few essential jobs that humans would rather not do, and they are certainly not valued for it. They are, of course, second class citizens, barely tolerated, and not really tolerated at all when, like Earstripe, they demonstrate the ability to be useful in more respectable occupations.

All three of our heroes, Galen, Piper, and Earstripe, all demonstrate depth of character and ingenuity that isn't apparent early on, making it a real delight to get to know them better.


I bought this audiobook.

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