My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There’s something different about Sam of Haywood, trainee to the Paladins. Though as brash and skilled as the rest of the recruits, Sam has a secret. She is the daughter of a Duke determined to make her way as a warrior in a world full of demons.
The book opens on a tragedy which scars Sam for the rest of the story and spurs her to action. She is to be trained by Paladin Lyons alongside another recruit, a half-demon named Braedon. Sent out of the camp on a new mission, they bond and grow stronger on their journey.
Sam is one of those rare characters who knows her own mind and won’t back down, not ever, not even when it’s in her best interests. There is always the risk with gender-bending stories like this that the woman will give in after the battle is over and go back to being a wife or a girlfriend or something other than herself, defined by her relationship with men. Yet although many of the characters of this story are men, Sam is not defined by them. Even romance does not make her lose her independence.
There’s a thousand things I enjoyed about this book. It was an easy read and addictive too. I could not wait to find out what happened next and though there was one particular plot point that was obvious long before it twisted, there were satisfying and unexpected ones along the way.
The best thing about this is book is the way the relationships are handled. Without giving too much away, Sam gets entangled with someone who could do her harm and yet it reads more like a Black-Widow-and-Hulk than your generic Twilight romance. Yes, there’s a risk involved, but Sam can handle herself and makes sure everyone knows it. A lot.
Sam of Haywood deserves a place in the zeitgeist as one of the best characters around. The only reason I haven’t rated this as five stars is because the ending drags its feet too much but it didn’t take away from the quality of the story as a whole.
If you’re a fan of well-written and fun fantasy books with believable and interesting characters, give Paladin a try.