The Queen’s Pawn by R. J. Hore

The Queen’s Pawn by R. J. Hore
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (254 Pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

Young Harow just wanted to stay on the farm for the rest of his life, but his mother insisted he go to school in the City to study to be a priest. Now the City is in flames and he is racing across unfamiliar countryside trying to get the mysterious and sensuous Queen Reginee and her extremely annoying and very spoiled daughter Desiree-Rose to safety. Of course there is a rebel army hot on their heels, black wizardry afoot, and sundry and dangerous creatures and villains, monstrous and common, seductive or evil, lurking along the way. If this were not enough for the youth to worry about, the Queen’s amorous chambermaid and bodyguard Mathilde, a smallish giantess, just wants to get him alone.

Harow only wants to be a country farmer like his father and brother, but his mother has other plans for him. She wants him to study for the priesthood, and so Harow finds himself in the city when the rebels attack. Panic reigns as the mob surges back and forth, pushing and clawing its way toward any possible sanctuary. Harow struggles to maintain his balance and eventually finds himself in a narrow lane which he hopes will lead him out of the city. And that is when his life changes forever as his robe is grabbed by a dying man who begs Harow to carry a message to the Queen. Then Harow is stopped by a mage who insists that Harow must fulfill his promise, and before Harow can even think, the two of them are headed to the palace to deliver the message. And so Harow, the student, is now masquerading as Duke Rickard, a famous war-leader.

R. J. Hore has written a gripping and fascinating medieval fantasy which had me captured from the opening paragraph. Harow has never been on a horse and he has never held a sword, but all of a sudden he is in charge of rescuing the Queen and her daughter and getting them to safety. The only soldiers Harow has are the Queen’s palace guards who also have never seen combat. The mage pretends to be Machia, Harow’s servant, and he guides Harow’s actions from the background, although he always seems to have his own agenda. But Harow adapts quickly to his new position. The story is told primarily from Harow’s perspective and he is a very real person, both simple and complex, and I found myself totally engaged in his life. I also liked Queen Reginee who is smart and able to withstand the rigors of travel far better than her spoiled daughter. Many of the supporting characters are also richly drawn, adding to the depth of the story.

The lands Howe and his party travel through are described vividly and in great detail, so that I really felt as if I were one of the group. The plot has a number of unexpected twists, which certainly add to the suspense. The action is fast-paced with never a dull or slow moment. And the ending was both believable and satisfactory.

If you enjoy fantasy set in a medieval world, I am sure you will really enjoy The Queen’s Pawn. The engaging characters as well as the complex plot make for an exciting novel from start to finish.

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