T. Kingfisher has been on my radar for a while because someone who knows *my* books recommended her to me. And yes, that was correct. Her sense of humor and the things she finds interesting are pretty much a 100% match for mine. To quote her afterword: “I am a great fan of fluffy romance. I am told that there are generally fewer severed heads and rotting corpse golems in fluffy romance, so possibly this book didn’t quite get there, but I’m certain I can write something fluffy eventually. Probably.” (Relatable.) These three books are definitely romances, but they in no way stint on interesting plots. The connecting thread is that, in each book, one of the main characters was a paladin (holy knight) of a god, The Saint of Steel. The Saint, however, died abruptly and mysteriously, leaving the paladins at loose ends. They now serve the Temple of the White Rat, which is, delightfully, the most practical religious organization you’ll ever find in fiction. (They employ a lot of lawyers.)
The strengths of these books is that they are genuinely funny; the world is concrete and thoroughly believable; and every character’s professions, talents, and weaknesses shape their stories in satisfying ways. For example, in the first book, Grace is a perfumer, and her skilled nose is helpful in tracking down the creepy villains. Nicely done.
This series does have a weakness, which is that since the paladins came from the same background (being chosen by this specific god) and then suffered an identical trauma when the god died, they all have similar neuroses. In all three books, the major obstacle to the romance is some variation on the “I can’t have a relationship because I’m not reliable” theme. It’s too much. Nevertheless, I love this world and, especially with the hook at the end of the third book (will we find out why the Saint of Steel died??), I will eagerly keep reading.
He wished that he could break out his knitting, but for some reason, people didn’t take you seriously as a warrior when you were knitting. He’d never figured out why. Making socks required four or five double-ended bone needles, and while they weren’t large, you could probably jam one into someone’s eye if you really wanted to. Not that he would. He’d have to pull the needle out of the sock to do it, and then he’d be left with the grimly fiddly work of rethreading the stiches. Also, washing blood out of wool was possible, but a pain.
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