The King’s Hand – The Knight of Eldaran #2 – Anna Thayer
Release date: June 11th, 2014
Publisher: Lion Fiction
Age Group: Adult
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Like many from his village, young Eamon Goodhand dreamed of joining the Gauntlet, the army of the overlord Eldered. Now he is about to complete his training and swear his loyalty to Eldered and his commanders, the Hands, who uphold Eldered’s tight control of the land. Entering into the service of the Gauntlet, Eamon’s gifts, particularly his potent Sight, quickly become valuable to his superiors and he advances to the command rank at a speed that arouses the suspicions of fellow officers.
However, Eldered’s bloody rule, and Eamon’s personal friendships, start to challenge the young soldier’s assumptions about what might be true, and worthy of service. And soon Eamon must conceal a fatal secret: he is sworn to both Eldered and to Hughan, the rightful king of the land. Yet he may not forswear the vows he has uttered in all good faith so however he serves, his name will be traitor.
As tensions and military skirmishes increase, Eamon finds himself trusted by both his masters. How can he possibly maintain his integrity, act justly to his fellow officers of the Gauntlet, and act on behalf of all the warring people of the land?
Following her debut ‚The Traitor’s Heir’, Anna Thayer continues her story about the brewing war between King and Master in the second book in the ‚The Knight of Eldaran’ series. The King is gathering his forces and threatening to take over the land from the usurper, the Master. Eamon Goodman, who infiltrated the Master’s seat, Dunthruik in the first book had a hard time coping with his double life, but seems to have finally made a decision in ‚The King’s Hand’.
Though I enjoyed the book and the story a lot, I still feel irked by the fact that the good guy is so all-round good and the bad guy is so all-round bad. There is not one redeeming characteristic to the Throned, while you also can’t say anything bad about the rightful King. This just feels a bit unnatural and fabricated. I’d love to have read more about the Throned’s past and how he became the person he is now. Is it the magic that doomed him? Something else? Or is he just a deranged lunatic who happens to be very, very clever? And then there’s the King. There must be something there that isn’t entirely moonlight and roses. Does he ever get angry? I want to see a part of him that makes him more human somehow.
The main character, Eamon, I also didn’t like as much as I did in the first book. In the first book he was torn between his ambition and pride and his vow to the rightful King. In this book, he tries to do good and be humble in the image of his King, which is a real turn-around from the Eamon in the first book. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but I missed the powerful Eamon. After finishing this book I had a feeling that Eamon had been weak throughout the whole book. Which he wasn’t, but the many bouts of weakness trumped the few moments of defiance.
The best thing about this story though is the fact that Eamon now is a veritable spy in the Throned’s closest entourage. Having fully pledged himself to the King again, Eamon is now in more danger than he ever was. In the beginning of the book he has to process a horrible loss and that was also one of the strongest parts of the book. I hadn’t seen it coming and I wouldn’t have expected the author to take the decision to kill off this character. But it was a bold decision that really had a big impact on the story and on our character and she wrote about Eamon working through his grief really well.
The secondary characters are also really interesting to read about and they made up for a lot of the things that annoyed me throughout the book. The brutal Lord Cathair who will leave you feeling powerless and frustrated always succeeds in throwing something new in Eamon’s way.
Then there’s Captain Anderas, who is as loyal to Eamon as anyone could be, but doesn’t know the truth. This gives a very interesting storyline where you’re always wondering how he will react when he ever finds out about Eamon’s real loyalty.
You can see I am very conflicted about this series. I like the writing style as it really succeeded in gripping me and keeping me reading, but there are just these major things that keep popping up and keep making me frown. I would be interested in reading the third book, not only to see how the story continues, but also to see if any of the comments I had about the first two books are different in this third one.