Adrienne Martini Reviews Paladin’s Hope by T. Kingfisher

Cover of Paladin's Hope by T. KingfisherPaladin’s Hope, T. Kingfisher (Red Wombat Studio 978-1-61450-551-8, $34.95, 270pp, hc) October 2021.

Paladin’s Hope is the third book in T. Kingfisher’s (AKA Ursula Vernon’s) Saint of Steel series. Like Paladin’s Grace and Paladin’s Strength before it, Paladin’s Hope is a fantasy romance at its core. There are gods and clerics and gnoles set against a medieval-esque city and countryside. The two main characters are destined for each other but take their sweet time realizing that. There are also dead bodies – lotsof dead bodies – and harrowing moments and light banter and joy. All ends well, more or less, and those inclined to pick up what Kingfisher is putting down will find Paladin’s Hope is exactly what they want.

Readers of the previous books will tangentially know Paladin’s Hope’s focus characters. The lich-doctor Piper helped solved the mystery in Paladin’s Strength. The paladin Galen has been on the periphery of the previous tales. Piper and Galen are pushed together by Earstripe, a gnole who wants to know why dead humans keep turning up in Anuket City. As you’d expect, that mystery turns out to be more complicated than it first appears to be.

Like the other two books, Paladin’s Hope can stand alone. With this new book, however, this world and its characters are developing into a broader and more textured story about what happens to a person when what gave them purpose is yanked out of their life. These titular paladins served a god who is now dead, leaving them adrift and broken – and Vernon makes it clear that she’s about to change the stakes for these fluffy romances by Hope’s end. There’s a long game afoot in these deeper-than-first-assumed tales, and I cannot wait to experience what else Vernon has planned.

Adrienne Martini has been reading or writing about science fiction for decades and has had two non-fiction, non-genre books published by Simon and Schuster. She lives in Upstate New York with one husband, two kids, and one corgi. She also runs a lot.

This review and more like it in the December 2021 issue of Locus.

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