Sally Slater’s Paladin is YA epic fantasy with great characters and action but struggles with the quest

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Sally Slater’s Paladin is YA epic fantasy with great characters and action but struggles with the quest

This book started its life on Wattpad and earned a place on the Amazon bestseller list.  I wasn’t as impressed with it as I thought I would be, but it was an enjoyable three star read.  

Goodreads Summary

Brash, cocky, and unbeatable with a sword (well, almost), Sam of Haywood is the most promising Paladin trainee in the kingdom of Thule… and knows it. The only problem is that Sam is really Lady Samantha, daughter of the seventeenth Duke of Haywood, and if her father has his way, she’ll be marrying a Paladin, not becoming one.

But Sam has never held much interest in playing damsel-in-distress, and so she rescues herself from a lifetime of boredom and matrimonial drudgery. Disguised as a boy, Sam leaves home behind to fight demons-—the most dangerous monsters in Thule—-alongside the kingdom’s elite warriors. Pity that Tristan Lyons, the Paladin assigned to train her, is none other than the hero of her childhood. He hasn’t recognized her–yet–but if he does, he’ll take away her sword and send her packing.

Sam is not the only trainee hiding secrets: Braeden is a half-demon with a dark past that might be unforgivable. Whether he can be trusted is anyone’s guess, including his.

As demons wreak havoc across the land, rebellion stirs in the West, led by a rival faction of warriors.

A war between men is coming, and Sam must pick a side. Will saving the kingdom cost her life–or just her heart?

My Thoughts

The well developed characters who populate the YA epic fantasy of Paladin are its biggest strength.  They are dimensional, engaging, and often humorous.  Sam’s narrative voice offers a believable strong female protagonist whom most readers will connect with from the start. I like the fact that she is a good swordswoman but she isn’t touted as “the one” who will save them all – she is just a trained girl who wants to fight the bad guys.  The action is not too shabby either. The combat sequences offer a nice mix of detail and summary so that none of the fight scenes ever seem to drag on for too long.  The magical system associated with the demons is easy for readers to grasp, and the half demon character of Braedon is put to good purpose when it comes to introducing the specifics that can’t be implied.  World building is adequate and descriptions easily translate to mental landscapes for readers, but the author avoids bogging the story down with the influx of alien details that can often choke readers in this genre.  While all of these factors should have added up to a pretty engaging read, it was a slow start for me, and it wasn’t until the second half of the book that I really found it compelling.  I think the problem is that the structure of the book is similar to a quest story but the plot lacks a clear questing goal for the first half, focusing instead on character development that leads to the feeling of a somewhat pointless ramble through the countryside.  This part of the story could have been more tightly plotted.  I had a little trouble with the exuberance of the romantic relationship at the end, but I’m a sceptic of romance, so . . .  Overall, I was pleased with this book and I think if you enjoy books like the Wheel of Time series this is a nice (much less convoluted and more YA friendly) book to consider.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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