Knight and Nightrider (The King’s Daughter, Book 4)
by J. Kathleen Cheney (Dream Palace Press)
This is the fourth book in Cheney’s The King’s Daughter Series, and like the last three I enjoyed it immensely. It starts when when former fellow cadets and now head of Sadrine province – Llelas, whom the King’s daughter Ellis has decided not to marry – gets a visit from his 11-year-old nephew who has actually mailed himself to his uncle! The child is a seer and insists that Llelas has to attend a ball at the home of his greatest enemy because he will meet his wife there. The child insists, saying she needs him.
For those not familiar with the series, it is full of people with interesting psychic gifts. Llelas is a watcher: once he’s touched person he can keep an eye on them remotely, which of course makes for some interesting customs among his people were this gift is prevalent. Ellis’s gift is that she’s a photographic memory for anything that she has written or has read that was written down. Many of Ellis’s family are seers, including her estranged father – the king. She’s still not sure why he all but abandoned her at a defunct military Academy, had the Academy brought up to speed, and then had her numbered among the cadets. But the King’s gifts as a seer are so strong that he’s been driven almost mad by them.
Throw into this mix a race of not-really-human beings led by a shape shifter known as Grandfather, who has blood ties to some of the gifted (and his own agenda) and you have more intrigue than your average book. In Cheney’s hands, this makes for an excellent read.
Despite also loving Llelas Ellis has married another one of her fellow cadets, Thomas Farrier. Soon after the book opens we discover that she’s become pregnant but doesn’t want anybody to know just yet because she’s worried it’s going to affect her career in the Guard. She is both in the Guard and guarded as someone near the throne who’ll be regent if her father dies.
In the background, through all of this, refugees are pouring over the border of a nearby country that the Seers are saying will be at war with them, and soon. Thomas Farrier is tasked with dealing with this problem.
Rather than focusing on Ellis, this volume mostly switches back and forth between Thomas – who works with the refugees – and Llelas, who as the new duke is trying to rebuild a province that his dissipated father would have stripped bare but for a fund left to him by his grandfather. His new wife had been raped by Llelas’s most deadly enemy and she was going to kill herself – she was worried that her father and brother would be crushed by this evil man. Instead, after a quick marriage with her father mistakenly thinking Llelas had gotten her with child, she’s thrown into the fascinating home and culture of Llelas’ …and meets Grandfather and his ilk.
There’s a side order of Ellis that involves them all as the coming war commences sooner than anyone expected. “Are you ready?” asked the-king-her-father, cryptically, and then it was suddenly upon them all.
You’re left smelling the smoke and rubble of battle and impatient for the next book because Cheney makes you care deeply about her characters and their fates.