A review by codexmendoza
Champion of the Rose: Darest Book 1 by Andrea K. Host


This is a book that takes all the pieces of a very traditional high fantasy novel (an ailing land, magical fae, the return of a king) and twists them. Soren is part of a long line of retainers magically selected to be the King’s Champion, but there hasn’t been a true king in years so she spends her time as a glorified librarian. However, when a king from the old line does suddenly appear, she realizes that the enchantment protecting the land has been twisted in pretty horrifying ways—ones that make her basically a walking puppet. Plus there's a killer and the existing rulers of Darset aren't particularly interested in giving up power.

I quite liked the fact that this book is about the political aspects of a fantasy court and the resulting bitter (or just not perfectly satisfying) compromises. I think this is definitely one of Host's darker novels, although she always has tendency of welding wonderous fantasy lands with harder realities.

Also, if you liked the parts of *Ancillary Justice* where Breq remembers being the Justice of Toren, you will enjoy the parts of of this novel where Soren is a castle.