by G.A. Aiken
Publication: November 24, 2020
Series: The Scarred Earth Saga #2
**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
The Princess Knight follows the 2nd eldest Smythe sister Gemma as she and her older sister Keeley attempt to protect the world from the treachery of their younger sister Beatrix. Gemma is the titular princess knight and struggles between remaining sidelined as sister to the queen, protecting her family, and maintaining her vows as a war monk. When temples and monasteries are pilfered and their residents murdered, Gemma decides to return to the Order of Righteous Valor to try to provide them sanctuary with her queen.
(It’s difficult to write about The Princess Knight without also comparing it to The Blacksmith Queen (The Scarred Earth Saga #1). I apologize in advance.)
The Princess Knight retains the same humor and bickering among siblings as its predecessor so I was not disappointed in the overall story. Many of the same characters return along with a barrage of new characters, making it difficult to follow at times. Strong female characters remain dominant and many more are added to the series. For instance, Ainsley Smythe is another skilled Smythe sister readers are introduced to. The long-running joke that neither Gemma nor Keeley pay attention to Ainsley and is constantly forgotten is both funny and infuriating. Being a younger sister myself, it pained me that Ainsley kept being ignored. I hope Ainsley will be the focus of the next book and that being forgotten will be an asset she will use to her advantage. I did love how the centaurs didn’t forget about her though.
Gemma Smythe was one of my favorite characters in The Blacksmith Queen so I was excited to have her as lead in the sequel. Gemma is not as likeable as Keeley, who easily opens her heart (and arms) to any individual and animal needing help. Gemma is much more suspicious of others as well as more prickly than Keeley. She remains hot-tempered and retains her single-track mind (set on destroying Beatrix). While the above was expected, Gemma’s confidence in herself seems to have eroded a little though the confidence she has in her skills remains. Her indecisive nature was the most bothersome to me because I found it to be somewhat uncharacteristic of her as compared to the Gemma in the first book. It frustrated me when Quinn (centaur and constant companion) constantly stepped in to point things out to her because of it.
There is a tenuous friendship that ultimately culminates into love but the romance isn’t present. The characters are constantly around one another but there is no chemistry beyond camaraderie to assume there could be an actual relationship beyond what ends up happening between the two. Maybe this might be addressed better in the next installments…maybe? I really hope so if they’re meant to be endgame.
The Princess Knight is for those who like humor in their fantasy and sword-wielding female characters who are not afraid to get their hands bloody. If you enjoyed The Blacksmith Queen, it is highly likely you’ll like the sequel as well. Although The Princess Knight stands well enough on its own, it doesn’t quite meet the bar set by The Blacksmith Queen. I enjoyed reading it and am ready for the next book in the series! (This might actually be a new favorite series but I’m hoping saga doesn’t mean more than 5 books.)