REVIEW: Sweep of the Blade (Inkeeper Chronicles #4) by Ilona Andrews
Maud Demille was a daughter of Innkeepers. She knew that a simple life wasn’t in the cards, but she never anticipated what Fate would throw at her.
Once a wife to a powerful vampire knight, Maud and her daughter, Helen, had been exiled for the sins of her husband to the desolate planet of Karhari. Karhari killed her husband, and Maud had spent a year and a half avenging his debts. But now all the debts are paid. Rescued by her sister Dina, Maud had swore off all things vampire. Except she met Arland, the Marshal of House Krahr. One thing led to another and he asked for her hand in marriage. She declined.
Try as she might, she can’t just walk away from Arland. It doesn’t help that being human is a lot harder for Maud than being a vampire.
To sort it all out, she accepts his invitation to visit his home planet. House Krahr is a powerful vampire House, and Maud knows that a woman who turned down the proposal from its most beloved son wouldn’t get a warm reception. But Maud Demille never shied from a fight and House Krahr may soon discover that there is more to this human woman than they ever thought possible.
Published as an online free serial before the book is compiled and self-published shortly after completion.
Dear Ilona Andrews,
I enjoy these series, but as much as I love Dina, the main character in the three previous books, this book I think is going to be my favorite one as of today. I followed this story when it was published as a free serial and I know that it started as “Maud’s novella”, but then grew into the novel and I am not complaining. I also appreciate that the final edited version smoothed out some rough angles in the transitions from one chapter to another. I also liked that the beginning of the book has some retelling of the events of the third book. We are not treated to the retelling of the main storyline of the book three, we are just shown how Maud and Arland met from Maud’s POV.
I also suspect that the authors wanted this story to be if not self contained then at least to give new readers a chance to not be confused if they decide to start with this book. I still beg you, please don’t start with this book! Maud and Arland have A LOT of interaction in book three and this really has a second chapter of their romance ( which to me was excellent) with some fun adventure and fighting thrown in.
So how did they meet? The blurb tells you that Dina rushed to help her sister when she got a message from her because Maud and her daughter Helen just had about enough of living in exile on Karhari ( understatement of the century). Dina asked Arland for help which he gladly gave and here they are on Karhari. By the way, when blurb says rescued , please don’t think that Maud was a damsel in distress. I present you with Maud’s first look at Arland.
““You’re not from around here,” the raider declared. The Lodge went quiet in anticipation of a good show. “Such keen powers of observation,” the cloaked man answered, his voice deep. An old House. Crap. The accent was unmistakable, cultured and still carrying traces of the original home world, the planet that gave life to the vampire species. Everybody in the room recognized this. Her husband’s family did their best to imitate it, going so far as to hire voice coaches for the children.
Maud pulled her dagger and her sword out under the table. Things were about to get ugly. A grimace twisted the raider’s face. “Your armor is clean. Pretty. Do you know what we do to pretty boys like you here?” The tall vampire sighed. “Is there a script? Do you give this speech to all who enter here, because if so, I suggest we skip the talking.” The raider roared. His mistake. The cloaked man waited until the sound died. “A challenge. I love challenges.””
“Wow. Vampires took pride in ground combat; her husband was one of the best, but this, this was on another level. Where did House Krahr even find him? What did he do for them? She turned to Dina and pointed at Arland. “Who the hell is that?” “The Lord Marshal of House Krahr,” Dina said. Oh sweet galaxy, he was the military head of his House. How in the world did Dina manage to rope him into this rescue?”
So we briefly relive their meeting and the end of the third book at the end of which Maud despite admitting that she fell in love with Arland did not accept his marriage proposal, but could not let him go and decided to follow him to his home planet before deciding for sure.
I don’t always buy the plot turn in romances when the character rejects the marriage proposal because they have some kind of internal hesitation for whatever reason. Maud’s hesitations, her distrust of vampires because of what took place in her first marriage, her thinking about welfare of her daughter first made perfect sense to me.
But she is in love, and Arland is a decent and honorable guy ( and entertaining and brave and fun and still sounded to me as believable person :)), so here Maud is with her daughter knowing that neither Arland’s scary mom (who is a Preceptor, a leader of the house Khar), nor other vampires won’t accept her that easily, but determined to see the things through and determined to make sure that if she decides to stay, House Khar would have her for herself and not just because Arland proposed to her.
And Arland is back home at the most interesting time – House Khar agreed to host a wedding ( no, not his). Let the games begin.
I have to say that while adventure in this book was fun and bloody , it was not nearly as complex as stories in book two and especially book three, it was basically a vehicle to advance the romance . I was not complaining though, I was happy to know in a sense that the outcome was obvious enough, it did not diminish the entertainment value to me and the relationship to me was very believable without being corny ( to borrow a comment from RL friend with whom I talked about this book).