Genre: fantasy (sword and sorcery) (YA) (novella)
Queer Representation: cis lesbian
Rating: 3.5 stars
Shaun Grayson has always wanted to be a knight, and protecting Princess Sara, whom she definitely does not have a crush on, is her mission. But when the Kingdom of Riverend is sacked and Sara’s life is truly in danger, Shaun finds there’s much more to being a knight than cute girls, petty squabbles, and court intrigue.
Okay, I’m a sucker for knight/princess trope when it’s f/f. Give me damsels in distress being saved by other damsels any day. A number of these types of books have come out (heh) in the YA market recently, and CORRUPTION OF HONOR (hereafter CoH) fits well within them. There aren’t any real surprises in this book, and I think readers will find it comfortably familiar: the squabbling with the love interest princess, the courageous, pure of heart knight, and a set of (predictable) circumstances that throws them together.
Not every book has to be a great modern work of fiction. Sometimes its nice to have slice of life books and trope books, and CoF scratched my ‘knights and princess’ itch perfectly. The pacing was reasonable, the action scenes well done, and there was suitable chemistry between Shaun and Sara. The ending as well–a cliffhanger–left me both pleased with the book’s progress but also wanting to read more. Not bad for a 138 page novella.
In late, out early
I don’t believe I have ever said this about a book before, but I think CoH came in way too late in the story. Yes, the conventional wisdom is ‘in late, out early,’ but CoH begins in what I would consider a chapter three or four–thrusting us into Shaun’s and Sara’s conflict without any real worldbuilding or character dynamics. It’s effective as the reader is immediately part of the story, but I felt like some comfort tropes were missed. Since this is a trope book at heart, that some of the formula was skipped made me grumpy.
Where was my ‘Shaun has always wanted to be a knight but XX stands in her way?’ Where was my ‘Sara is feisty and once beat Shaun in a wooden sword duel so is both girly and able to take care of herself?” Most importantly, where is the tension of how Shaun and Sara met and how Shaun became her guard? I think there was a lot of potential in this narrative for a delicious romance, but instead the book was a very short introduction and then one hundred pages of battle. And I like battle, don’t get me wrong, but I needed more character grounding, and an info dump in the back of the book in some backmatter doesn’t help much.
Despite my grumbles however, this was a fun, short read. It lacked any serious problematic elements and could be a teen’s easy introduction into sword and sorcery fantasy. Shaun and Sara are believable protagonists, their sexuality is on-page but never an issue, and the book follows well-known and well-loved trajectories. Readers looking for a fun adventure-fluff read, as well as those who enjoyed OF FIRE AND STARS by Audrey Coulthurst, LUNAV by Jenn Polish (although this is more dark fantasy), and PORTRAITS OF A FAERIE QUEEN by Tay LaRoi, will also likely enjoy CoH.
You can buy CORRUPTION OF HONOR in paperback here and ebook here.