Read February 2020 Recommended for Andrews fans ★ ★
A lack-luster entry into the Kate Daniels universe. I essentially bought it because it was cheap, and because I needed an airplane read. Thanks to Covid, my trip was canceled, but I still needed a quick distraction. Did this work? Kind of.
Hugh, for those not in the know, is a Major Villain in the Kate Daniels series, and I was curious to see if he could gain a redemption angle. We have his brief history as a foundling child, then a depressed man trying to drink himself to death after Roland separates Hugh from him. Anything in-between was rare, either in flashbacks or in explanation to his new employer. Mostly, Hugh reflected on the enormous void in his life, frequently. Had it been me, I think I would have spent more time in his early years, building that dysfunctional relationship between Hugh and Roland so that the reader can appreciate how positive traits can be twisted, and explain how we were supposed to admire/like this person who kidnapped people and starved them to death. Routinely. As it is, the emotional plot is of a man bereft of his leader (in the many senses of the word) and who is only given meaning by his few remaining soldiers, the Iron Dogs. Since they find meaning through employment (not really a band of moral mercenaries here), it feels far less worthwhile than it could.
The job, of course, is guarding a town, which for some reason means an arranged marriage with Elara, the leader of the group. Set romance level to ‘adversarial,’ and cue the insults. “Harpy.” “Bastard” ad nauseum, resulting in a (view spoiler)
There’s a few moments of trademark Andrews world-building that seem potentially interesting, but most never are filled out. Hugh ends up with a horse that occasionally glows. Although Elara’s powers are hinted at, they aren’t well elaborated on.
The plot is a little scattershot: bring the Iron Dogs together. Find a job. Make the job work. There seems to be people missing from a nearby settlement and Elara is convinced her people will be blamed. Who/what are these strange soldiers in the woods? Are there gods involved again? Yet somehow, it lacked the interest of any of the Daniels’ wars and I’m a bit at a loss to say why. Perhaps because of low emotional investment in the characters.
Did I waste time reading this? Probably, but I would have just been wasting it somewhere. I wasn’t like I was going to do anything useful or educational. I just wish it could have been a more satisfying diversion.