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Paladin by Sally Slater


by Sally Slater

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I was drawn to Paladin mainly because I am a huge sucker for stories about girls disguised as boys. And while it’s certainly a fun read, it just wasn’t quite polished enough to meet my expectations.

Paladin starts off as a training saga highly reminiscent of The Song of the Lioness. But then, through a series of strange time jumps, most of the characters’ training is either completely glossed over, or abruptly cut short when they’re suddenly sent on a journey across the kingdom. This shift in direction was jarring, but I managed to roll with it.

What was more difficult for me to get past were the clunky fight scenes (and there are a lot of them). In every battle, our heroes seem to be grossly outnumbered by demons, but, thankfully, these slavering monsters just wait patiently for the characters to finish their witty banter and then attack one at a time. It wasn’t just the fight scenes that were amateurish; in general, the writing could have been a lot more fluid throughout the novel.

On the other hand, Paladin wasn’t all bad. The heroine, Sam, is both feisty and vulnerable, and I enjoyed rooting for her. Braeden is also a compelling, multi-layered character and a great love interest. I really liked how he and Sam developed a solid friendship before the romantic angle even came into play. It made their relationship not just believable, but also surprisingly touching. Moments of humor interspersed here and there brought a lightheartedness to the story, making it a pleasure to read even in spite of its flaws.

Overall, Paladin had all the components of a really good fantasy adventure - unique premise, strong characters, decent plot - but the execution just fell a bit short. The pacing dragged during the second half, making the story feel longer than necessary. I also wish that the demon mythology was more fully explained. It’s arguably the most interesting element of the worldbuilding, but I still have no idea what the demons are exactly, where they come from, or why they’re there. Since I’m mildly curious to find out, I may consider picking up the sequel when it’s released. We’ll just have to wait and see. ( )
  les121 | Mar 14, 2016 |
Dreams of swords and honor!

Great new female hero. Slater's writing reminds me a tad of Sarah J. Maas with a dash of Tamora Pierce.
A tried and true theme with a difference. Young woman (of noble birth) wants to be a Paladin, lives for sword fighting, and definitely doesn't want to be married off to decorate someone's holdings and birth the required heirs.
Disguising herself as a boy, Sam (Samatha) heads off to paladin headquarters to try her luck.
(I've got to say that all that breast binding and then hiding how the the 'call of nature' impacts differently for women would wear me out, let alone holding my own in sword fighting against a hulking successful Paladin. How did she get away with it? Privacy would not be the first thing on the travelling Paladins' minds).
She succeeds. An unforeseen circumstance--her co-trainee Braeden is a half demon. Her trainer, her hero from her past, Paladin Tristan Lyons, First of the Sword.
Training, fighting demons, following the High Commander's bidding, and the continued battle to disguise her gender do take a toll, as does entering the enclave of a rival organization, The Uriel. It is feared that they seek to oust the Paladins. Sam and her team find more than they'd bargained for. Frighteningly more! The Paladin are in trouble!
Well written, Sam's story exercises such a pull that you soon find yourself deep into the action and just snarl at having to face the day's busyness. A feisty young woman who won't settle for any less than she feels driven to do. Translate that drive to today's young women and here's a message for all to follow their dream. They can come true!

A NetGalley ARC ( )
  eyes.2c | May 31, 2015 |
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