The King’s Hand – The Knight of Eldaran #2 – Anna Thayer

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Release date: June 11th, 2014
Publisher: Lion Fiction
Age Group: Adult
Pages: 523
Format: Paperback
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?

Review:

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.

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Posted on March 28, 2015, in Anna Thayer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi there. I really enjoyed reading your review of ‘The King’s Hand’ – thanks for taking the time to loot at it! I don’t know if you ever got as far as the third book (would love to hear your thoughts if you did!), but as Eamon rises higher and higher in the ranks and comes closer to the Throned, we as readers learn a lot more about him, too. Yes, there’s a lot of story to Edelred and no, he wasn’t all bad to begin with. One day (probably when my 3 year old and 11 month old are a little bigger!!), I hope to go back and write what I call ‘the prequel’, which will tell the story of Edelred’s rise to power. Some of that story, and hints of a more human (I hesitate to say ‘softer’ or ‘redeeming’ – I’ll leave that to your judgement!) side to him are revealed in ‘The Broken Blade’.

    As for Hughan… yes, even I think he seems a little ‘too good’. Part of the trouble with sketching him out as a character comes from the fact that our perspective of him is so limited by having Eamon as the focaliser. Hughan always felt to me like he was throwing 110% into exhibiting patience, kindness and loyalty to Eamon when they meet, not least because he feels guilty that, had he revealed himself earlier, Eamon might not have joined the Gauntlet (something he touches on in the first book). He knows that he has to be a pillar of strength for his embattled First Knight.

    I really appreciate your comment on the killing off of a major character – it was a thread I struggled with (I loved that character!), but I felt that it really had to be done. The process of charting Eamon’s own response to it was also therapeutic for me, as I was able to fictionalise and allegorise what my young adult experience of depression had been. Emotionally, I had a lot staked in that section of the story!

    If you do manage to get to reading ‘The Broken Blade’… get in touch! I would love to hear whether you felt your queries and criticisms were addressed. (You’ll find me at annathayer.wordpress.com, or on twitter of facebook). In the meantime, I look forward to enjoying more of your blog – am about to follow it!

    All the best!

    Anna Thayer

    • Hi Anna,
      I’m sorry it took me some time to reply to this comment, I’ve been so busy lately that I keep forgetting everything! Thank you for reading the review, I’m glad you liked it. I enjoyed reading the books and I hopefully will at some point get the third one and review it!

  1. Pingback: Update: March | Draumr Kópa

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