Review by: dancingonrain
Hector, only fifteen years old, is the youngest squire in the elite military recruit force for the country. Unfortunately, everyone there assumes he has only made it this far because of his close relationship with King Alejandro. No one believes that Hector is there by his own merit.
King Alejandro needs Hector for a top secret mission that he only trusts him to complete. Hector, unsure about the suicide mission at first, decides to follow through because it will also allow him the chance to prove to everyone, himself included, that he does deserve to be training among the best military recruits and that he does have what it takes to be a part of the Royal Guard.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories by Rae Carson is a series of three novellas including, The Shadow Cats, The Shattered Mountain, and The King’s Guard. They are prequels to the original Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy, which include, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Crown of Embers, and The Bitter Kingdom.
Out of these three novellas, The King’s Guard is my favorite.
I love reading, but because of my short attention span, I often take a break every 15-30 minutes to tinker around with something else, however, I almost read this novella in one sitting. I’m not entirely sure what it did differently than the other two novellas. Maybe I thought the plot was well laid out. While I felt that the beginning of the novella did well to characterize Hector through other characters, I felt that some of the characterization of the other characters or all the characters as a whole could have been a little more defined. The plot was enough to keep me interested, but all the characters felt like they had a similar or one voice with the exception of a couple.
Either way, this novella was still my favorite out of the three.
I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but this novella also tied in briefly with the other two novellas. Towards the end of The King’s Guard the use of duerma leaf to make someone fall asleep was mentioned and the only other time we heard of the use of that plant was in The Shattered Mountain. There was also a passage from The Shadow Cats that read:
“One thing I have learned from many years of watching my father is that some people, the best ones, are motivated more by the chance to prove themselves than by a command to serve. It is the work itself that calls them onward, especially if they believe they are the only ones who can do it.”
—Alodia in The Shadow Cats.
I thought it was either very clever of Carson, the author, or a happy coincidence that this one passage was basically Hector’s driving force for the entire The King’s Guard novella. Like I mentioned before, the mission King Alejandro wants to send Hector on is a suicide mission and at first Hector isn’t thrilled. He would rather train with the other recruits and not fall behind. And who wants to stop in the middle of training to go on a suicide mission anyway? But most of the people there already think that the only reason Hector even got to be there was because the king let him inside. Hector sees this as an opportunity to prove himself. At the end of the novella, he says he’s happy to serve his kingdom, his king, and his queen, but I think the fact that he wanted to prove himself also played a large factor.