Paladin By Sally Slater
Brash, cocky, and unbeatable with a sword (well, almost), Sam of Haywood is the most promising Paladin trainee in the kingdom of Thule… and knows it. The only problem is that Sam is really Lady Samantha, daughter of the seventeenth Duke of Haywood, and if her father has his way, she’ll be marrying a Paladin, not becoming one.
But Sam has never held much interest in playing damsel-in-distress, and so she rescues herself from a lifetime of boredom and matrimonial drudgery. Disguised as a boy, Sam leaves home behind to fight demons-—the most dangerous monsters in Thule—-alongside the kingdom’s elite warriors. Pity that Tristan Lyons, the Paladin assigned to train her, is none other than the hero of her childhood. He hasn’t recognized her–yet–but if he does, he’ll take away her sword and send her packing.
Sam is not the only trainee hiding secrets: Braeden is a half-demon with a dark past that might be unforgivable. Whether he can be trusted is anyone’s guess, including his.
As demons wreak havoc across the land, rebellion stirs in the West, led by a rival faction of warriors.
A war between men is coming, and Sam must pick a side. Will saving the kingdom cost her life–or just her heart?
I don’t even know where to begin. This book was originally one of the rare good fantasy novels on Wattpad so when I read it as a published novel I immediately fell in love. I’m so glad this book got published, for me Sally 100% deserved it. Not only is she a great writer but she always seems so nice and interacts awesomely with her fans. She even allowed me to interview her which you can see here.
Anyway, back to the book, I’m so glad I bought it as the changes made from the original Wattpad version were great. The bits I looked forward were still there, but I felt as if her writing style had matured and the plotline fine-tuned, removing any flaws. The idea for this novel is so unique. Yes, I know we’ve all seen the whole ‘girl dresses as a man to fight’ thing in Mulan, nut Sally Slater rewrote this with her own flair. Sam didn’t go to escape a marriage or to protect a family member, she went for herself. She went because she wanted to and I liked that, a protagonist who is sometimes selfish and does things for themselves.
Now, leading very smoothly on to the characters, I absolutely loved them. Sam is one of my new favourite female protagonists. She is not strong ‘for a girl’, brave ‘for a girl’ or determined ‘for a girl’. She is simply strong, brave and determined. She proves multiple times she’s better than most men. At some points she starts to fall down the slippery slope of strong female characters not being able to be at all feminine. However luckily, Sam managed to cling on to a tree branch so she didn’t actually fall down the slippery slope. Throughout the entire novel, Sam is aware of the two different sides of herself but doesn’t understand how she can be both, making the last line truly wonderful. “And Sam who was both warrior and woman, finally found a place where she belonged.” Finally! A badass female character who realises she can also be a woman.
Looking at the rest of the characters, I want my own Braeden. Pretty please…… I promise I’ll be good. Braeden spends the entire novel trying to atone for sins he has committed and sees himself as completely unlovable, which is what makes him so adorable. Braeden is a refreshing change to the usual fantasy love interest, he is Sam’s equal in every single way, however he is struggling with problems of his own and is in no way perfect.
Now with Tristan, this had the potential to be the horrible unnecessary and downright awkward love triangle. I was immensely relived when it wasn’t. Sam is firm in her love for Braeden and Tristan doesn’t even get a look in. There is only one team here and it’s Team Braeden. Tristan and Sam’s banter is great though – they both bring out the other’s sassiness and are great friends whilst he thinks she’s a man.
The rest of the cast of characters are an interesting bunch and I look forward to seeing more of them in the future. I am especially interested in finding more out about the High Commander and Braeden’s past. One of the things I really enjoyed about his novel is you never know what is going to happen. You’re permanently on the edge of your seat and there’s nothing you can do about it except read faster.