Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Review: Player's Ruse

I've read a few series by Hilari Bell and I like that she manages to have several points of view without having the characters portray each other as idiots and themselves as the one sane guy/gal. That's hard to pull off and she makes it look easy in all her books, like this one. We have two totally different characters and, even though they've grown over the past two books they still don't get along completely and won't hesitate to say the other is an idiot but they just say it, the actions still come through loud and clear and it's really the reader who makes the final call about who, if either of them, was being dumb.

Player's Ruse: A Knight and Rouge Novel
I like the style of covers for this series, a simple object or two against a dark blue background. It tells enough of the story, gives important imagery, and the covers all match up quite nicely.

Summary: After a few years of traveling together as knight and squire, Michael and Fisk are getting along (even if Fisk still protests that being a knight errant in this day and age is ludicrous) and still finding adventures every now and then. Currently they are helping Michael's cousin (and his unrequited love) catch up to a set of players since she has fallen madly in love with them but strange things are afoot in town and violent acts keep happening to the players. Michael has decided to figure out what was going on in a last attempt to win the love of his cousin and Fisk believes that they'll just end up getting killed or run out of town again.

The Good: Since both of the characters have matured by now I was able to sympathize with both of them regardless of whose POV it was (it switches each chapter for those interested) and they are a pretty amusing pair to read about. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I thought I knew the twist but was only partially right and a number of the characters played against the normal tropes which was amusing to read. There were also a few spoilery plot lines (spoilers dealing with the end of the first book, not this one) that managed to develop and makes me wonder where this series will go in the end. Most YA series have actual endings but for the life of me I can't figure out what this one might be so that's keeping me interested as well.

The Bad: Like I said at the beginning, I've read a number of Hilari Bell's books by now so I've gotten a good idea of what her favorite time of character is to write so I've seen parts of Michael and Fisk a few times before. The lovable rouge character has gotten old and the chivalrous knight whose not always right is even older, although I think Michael has gotten more character development than Fisk. It's not that I've read this story before per-say, but it is quite familiar and I do wonder how much longer she can keep the series going without running it into the ground.

Good books, will probably be enjoyed better by those who haven't read as much by this author (not that I wouldn't recommend it, I love her Farsal Trilogy and want to find the other two books in the The Shield, Sword, and Crown trilogy) but the books lean more towards Middle Grade than the adult part of Young Adult.