(I don't usually do this but I'm going to mention something the author told me when she sent me this book for review. Apparently, there have been a few men who have read this story and thought that it hit a little too close to home. The recovery of Lom, our hero, from a horrific injury is a central plot element to the story. He starts the book off in a very bad way and reading the book was uncomfortable for a few men who had suffered long periods of sickness. I'll get to my thoughts in a few seconds, but I can see why she warned me. Go forth and read it, but don't say I didn't warn you. Oh, and I know I don't usually do spoilers but when the author warns you about reading her book, it's only right to share.Oh, and she brings it up on like page two, so it's not like I killed the ending here.)
Trickster Noir, by Cedar Sanderson is the second in the first series ever to make me feel bad. Seriously. See, the first book in the series is named Pixie Noir, and while it does indeed kick ass (and may be given its own review someday) it's named Pixie Noir. I don't usually do a whole lot with pixies because that's what I have daughters for. I was turned off by the title. Fortunately for me though, I heard enough good things about it and picked up a copy. Trickster Noir is a worthy sequel. It takes up right after the ending of the first one and continues rocking along.
The book is equal parts badassery, political intrigue done faerie style and family bonding time. Oh and there's a bit of a love story but fortunately, from my point of view at least, it's not overdone. Lom and his bride-to-be Bella (no not THAT Bella, thank God) are very clearly in love but this is a story about more than just that. Sanderson moves things along between them while keeping the story going in it's other respects in a manner similar to the one that Catherine Asaro uses in her Saga of Skolian Empire. It's a technique I very much admire.
This one has a few genuine surprises in it. I enjoyed that. I've studied the art of writing (while completing exactly nothing) for quite awhile now and I usually either see something coming from a mile away or feel completely blindsided because it wasn't foreshadowed at all. Sanderson manages to strike the right balance though and in one particular case, I was floored for a good five seconds before I like... got it. So good job for her there.
Watching Lom struggle is a bit painful at first, but I think it needs to be. He is recovering from an injury that left him nearly lifeless and without his magic, a horrible thing to a faerie. At the beginning of the book he can barely lift his head. The thing is, he's a sympathetic character instead of simply a pitiful one. Sanderson makes it clear that Lom wants to get better and get back to doing his thing instead of sitting around soaking up the sympathy of others. It's impressive.
The action scenes are impressive. Remind me never to piss Sanderson off, because she seems to have enough of a knowledge of weaponry and tactics to totally ruin not just my day, but the day of everyone I know. Bella knows her way around weaponry and so does the extended family. She is a bit more protective than she probably should be, but it's her first time leading troops in battle. She's a decent tactician though and she's got good help. It probably doesn't hurt matters that she's got an entire library stored in her skull and more magical ability than has been seen in any one individual basically ever. Bella is a female protagonist in my favorite mold: strong, proud, smart, tough and brave. She's also caring and compassionate if that's what you're into.
My one complaint about the book, and maybe I'm just whining here, is that the characters in it spend so much time eating that it starts to become a distraction to the story. It sounds weird typing it, but I've never seen a series of books with as many meals in it as this one tome. It seems like every chapter ends with a meal. Don't take me wrong. I love food as much as the next guy but damn. I hear Sanderson is herself a good cook, and she writes a column called "Eat This While You Read That" (the latest, as of when I wrote this post, is here) and is apparently a very good cook but there is such a thing as taking it too far. It's not the worst transgression in the world, especially given that eating helps recovery after using too much magic, but it could be toned way down without detracting from the story. Overall though, this one is definitely worth your time and money. You can buy it by clicking the link below.
Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 Faerie Wings.
Stonycroft Publishing, 2014
On Sunday: Firefly