Yesterday, I reviewed KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY, the first in a trilogy. The second book, THE SECRET PRINCE, is even better than the first. If yesterday’s review didn’t convince you to read this series, hopefully this one will. I’ll do my best to write this review without any spoilers so that newcomers to the series (or even just this volume) will still be surprised.
What I already love about the KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY books is the way they’re evolving in a fashion similar to HARRY POTTER. Those books grew up with us, and so do these. The first volume, as fraught as it was with danger and mayhem, felt like child’s play compared to the newest installment. Filled with danger, romance, and even death, THE SECRET PRINCE is darker and more likely to make you chew your nails to the quick as you race through each new page. I can’t wait to see what Violet Haberdasher infuses into the final novel. I wish there were more than three, because I’m already not ready for this series to end!
THE SECRET PRINCE begins at the start of second-term, so Henry Grim and Co. are still first-year students. While much remains the same, a lot has changed, too. Characters set up to be loathed in the first book are given a more humane side and redeeming traits that most authors don’t often bother with. Other beloved characters take on sharper edges. Everything we thought we knew has changed. The first novel was very much an introduction to school life; now, everyone has settled in, so there are more issues to explore. At the same time, Henry can’t forget the events that changed his life during the first semester, so he’s much more cautious this time around. The Nordlands are once more up to no good. Disturbing tales of a doctor who goes around snatching citizens and “fixing them” when they’re out at night after curfew have made their way to London. During a trip to the country last semester, Henry discovered a combat room at a rival school, but under The Longsword Treaty, combat training isn’t allowed. The Knightley students find a secret room and start teaching themselves how to use weapons for battle, and when Henry discovers a chance to disguise himself as an envoy en route to The Nordlands, he jumps at the opportunity. However, this isn’t the smartest move, and our scrappy hero finds himself in over his head in ways no reader could foresee.
I REALLY like this series, bookworms. It has all of the elements I love in a series. I adore the way Haberdasher doesn’t leave us in suspense at the conclusion of each novel. Yes, there are loose ends that we want answers to, but HARRY POTTER does this as well. They end on the same note. Unlike HP, however, Haberdasher gives us the goods early on. There’s no sidestepping around issues such as romance and drawing things out. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am for the win! Only, not crude like I just made it sound. ^^; I really appreciate the way the author continues to flesh out characters that we thought we knew and shines them up until they become someone new. This is a great fantasy adventure for anyone who enjoys such genres.
I love the full suit of armor on this cover. It fits nicely with the fencing armor on the paperback edition of KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY. In the first book, students only fenced, so it was appropriate. This time around, the boys are secretly teaching themselves how to use weapons and preparing for battle with The Nordlands. I love the dark shades of black and blue, not to mention that brilliant splash of deep crimson coating the background. Plus, there’s a suit of armor in the hallway that the students use to inform everyone when their secret training sessions will take place. This cover is well-suited, and I can’t wait to see what the third book will look like.
[THE SECRET PRINCE launches June 28, 2011. I normally wait until a week or two before launch to review a book, but since 1) I reviewed KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY yesterday, and 2) It's The All Male Challenge month, I figured I'd slip it in a little early!]
This entry is part of Logan E. Turner and The Unread Reader's All Male Review Challenge (2011 Edition). See how I've done so far here.]