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Review of The Duelists Trilogy (Books 1-3)

Review of The Duelists Trilogy (Books 1-3)Swords and Scoundrels by Julia Knight

Rating: I'M OBSESSED
Genres: Action & Adventure, Epic, Fantasy
Pages: 400
Published by: Orbit
Publication Date: October 6th 2015
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Book Blurb: Two siblings. Outcasts for life.... together. What could possibly go wrong? Vocho and Kacha are champion duelists: a brother and sister known for the finest swordplay in the city of Reyes. Or at least they used to be-until they were thrown out of the Duelist’s Guild. As a last resort, they turn reluctant highwaymen. But when they pick the wrong carriage to rob, their simple plans to win back fame and fortune go south fast. After barely besting three armed men and a powerful magician, Vocho and Kacha make off with an immense locked chest. But the contents will bring them much more than they’ve bargained for when they find themselves embroiled in a dangerous plot to return an angry king to power.... Swords and Scoundrels is the first book in The Duelist’s Trilogy -- a tale of death, magic, and family loyalty.

This review is for all three books in this outstanding trilogy. The boiled-down plot basically follows duelists brother and sister as they navigate political intrigue and deal with their lives that get turned upside down.

What made this series so enjoyable for me was the relationship between Kacha and Vocho, the brother and sister duelist. They have a complicated relationship, crafted by what I think of as an abusive father; mentally in Kacha’s case and physically and mentally for Vocho. Their childhood forged an odd bond, and the sheer hate-love relationship they have is simply a joy to read about as much as it is heartbreaking. We follow a few other storylines throughout the series, Petri being the other focus of the books. Petri was an interesting character himself, and he changed the most over the series, rather dramatically I might add. He is more involved in the political side; a needed storyline so we as the readers understand what the hell is going on as Kacha and Vocho spend a lot of the books in the dark.

Magic was handled nicely in this series. It wasn’t pretty, but it is strongly developed and the mages themselves are a complicated bunch. The world is quite interesting. Both religion and politics are fleshed out enough that anyone loving complicated worlds should be satisfied. For me, I skimmed just a bit during some descriptions, but none were terribly long or too drawn out for me to assign any negativity to them. I was just too wrapped up in the brother and sister’s story to care about the layout of a room. The writing reads super quick. The books are all under 400 pages, but I read them much faster than some other 400 page books. It was what I call accessible writing; something easy to follow and lacking poetic or flowery prose. Knight gets to the point rather quickly.

The first book was a great setup and really gets the reader invested in the characters. Especially Kacha and Vocho. I say them because I felt they were the most developed characters. Plus, as I said, I just loved their relationship. There were some flashback scenes into their childhood which was used to explain how they got where they were and some of their personality traits. They were done well, and I never felt as if they slowed the story.

The second book was simply amazing and moved at neck-breaking speeds. It, surprisingly enough, solved all the questions and major plot lines from the first book and any raised in the second. It was my favorite by far.

The third book was closure. It wrapped up the one remaining thread from book 2 that I didn’t think needed an ending. It was my least favorite, but that’s only because it focused a lot on Petri. Those interested and loving his character will probably enjoy book 3 the most.

I’ve mentioned how great Kacha and Vocho’s relationship is, but they stand alone quite well. Kasha is a sensible woman, strong and a badass. I found her a delight to read. She had a sheltered softness to her, but she could beat anyone in a duel. I enjoyed her struggles, her needs and how they shaped her, how she freed herself, how she grew. Vocho was simply fun. He was as complicated as his sister, but in an entirely different way. I did enjoy his character most. His carefree go-fight-and-deal-with-the-fallout-later attitude was great. Initially I found him a bit pompous, caring too much about what he looked like, about money, but then one little scene explained it and I fell in love with him. Cospel, their assigned servant, starts out with a small role which grows with each book. He quickly became another great character, adding some humorous dialog and playing off Vocho’s dialog brilliantly. Keep an eye on Dom in the beginning. I found him to be an equally entertaining addition to the cast. All of the characters stand on their own nicely, adding their own flare to the story.

Overall, I must say I was surprised by how much I loved this series. I highly recommend it to everyone.

 

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About Julia Knight

Julia Knight is married with two children, and lives with the world’s daftest dog that is shamelessly ruled by the writer’s obligatory three cats. She lives in Sussex, UK and when not writing she likes motorbikes, watching wrestling or rugby, killing pixels in MMOs. She is incapable of being serious for more than five minutes in a row.

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