Juliet E. McKenna – The Warrior’s Bond

The Warrior’s Bond (2001) by Juliet E. McKenna turned out to be a great surprise. I pretty much expected the fourth novel in The Tales Of Einarinn fantasy series to follow a similar format as the previous three novels: A slow start with a first half containing some build-up for the second half and some minor storylines of low importance before the real action would start up halfway down in a different direction. In the first few chapter this almost seemed the case, but then McKenna did not linger and moved the characters to the center stage of the plot.

The story then transformed into a kind of urban fantasy type of plot. The characters barely had time to adapt to everything that was happening around them. The pace became fast although McKenna managed to maneuver some scenes with a more leisurely pace in between. With so much going on suddenly McKenna had sometimes a bit trouble jostling all the different elements of the plot within the set timeframe which like many urban fantasy plots were very constrained. I would judge she succeeded although there were some wobbles but when turning the rapidly progressing story in a pageturner the reader hardly has time to spare attention to minor details.

All in all, very entertaining and far more exciting stuff than the regular fare of the first three novels. Saying much on the plot is hard without giving something away. Overall it was quite different with a more stronger approach for the characters. Everybody was taking action and thus being more present. There was some character development but I shouldn’t give it that much body. With multiple narratives in a fastpaced plot there is not that much space to put much into it. Nevertheless McKenna managed to add some into it at times when there was a moment to lower the pace.

Mentioning the narratives, McKenna still used one first person narrative and a few third person narrative. In my first review of the series I mentioned that I disliked the shifts because there are multiple third person narratives. I haven’t said much since. In the second novel the switches were much less and there was more focus. As I have kept on reading without any time intervals between the subsequent novels you could say I have gotten used to it. Still I don’t think the setup is ideal. McKenna uses the first person narrator to provide more insight into the characters which usually revolves about more internal thoughts and monologues which do not result that well in the aim. The third person narratives also have it, only to a minor extent and sometimes barely and making the distinction is not really necessary if I compare it to how other writers handle it.

The Warrior’s Bond was the most enjoyable and fun read of the series, especially as it lacked the slow buildup and less interesting first half that the first three novels had. This one was a real pageturner. The only downside of the different approach and the plot followed is that it moved the greater plot hardly forward. As McKenna has been writing pretty standalone stories for each novel there is not really any expectation for a grand finale to come in the fifth and last novel. It will also have to contain a standalone story so that does intrigue me in how she will conclude it all. This one is certainly recommended.

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