P.C. Hodgell – Honor’s Paradox

The sixth novel in the epic fantasy Kencyrath series by P.C. Hodgell is Honor’s Paradox (2011). It is a straight continuation from the previous novel, Bound In Blood, and one of my early conclusions is that both books should have been one instead of two.

In the previous for novels each told a somewhat standalone story aside from the greater one. By book four, To Ride A Rathorn, this pattern changed. Both Bound In Blood and Honor’s Paradox are closely connected to To Ride A Rathorn in settings, themes and story elements. Overall developments progress more slowly. There are less revelations and Hodgell took her time to explore the world of the Kencyrath more extensively. This is probably also connected to the fact that she took a long time to write the first three novels while she able to be far more productive since the last three. She does not intend to rush the story to the end and as the stories are engaging and odd at the same time, the characters refreshing and the setting quite unique, I have not that much of a problem with that. The only downside of it is that Honor’s Paradox, like Bound In Blood, does not have the spark and impact as the first four novels had, as they explored known paths introduced in To Ride A Rathorn. It is okay to have another novel to conclude these, but they have been split into two novels which gives the feeling (a matter of perspective, but this is how it does work), of it being extended too much. Both novels are not that long that they couldn’t have been combined, although this would result in a doublesized novels compared to all the previous ones.

I have pretty much already disclosed that Honor’s Paradox closes the story arc that started in To Ride A Rathorn. This would not be a spoiler as, noted above, it will finally conclude it as it has been going on too long and that the series can progress to the next stage and explore new paths. I am now actually quite eager to read the next installment.

What to say about Honor’s Paradox? It has a similar rhythm as the previous novel. The prose is fine and easy to read and the events as always amusing and at times sinister. As I think of it there is less attention to the side characters. Hodgell has given them ample time in the previous two novels and doesn’t seem to have much to add to them. There is less drama and conflict. Hodgell tries, but it is all rather of a concluding nature. The story arc needs to be ended and many positions have been made clear already. Hodgell adds in a few revelations but they don’t have much impact.

Even though it is hard to do so, I can only conclude that Honor’s Paradox doesn’t deliver as well as the other novels in the series and is the weakest of all, albeit still being way above the average fantasy novel. As before I could not put the book down and I enjoyed it very much. It is just not the right novel to start the series in if you would do so by accident, but the same can be said for the fifth novel, as you would have missed too much of what has been going on before.

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