I know Romancelandia is all in for this author’s more romantic fantasy books, mainly the Saint of Steel series. And if you haven’t added those to your Kindle yet, you really should get on that, but THIS is the book that started my love for T. Kingfisher. Definitely fantasy with just a dash of romance, but FUNNY and action-packed. It’s also in the same world as the series mentioned above, which made my reading of the novels that came after much easier.
Here’s the blurb:
A paladin, an assassin, a forger, and a scholar ride out of town. It’s not the start of a joke, but rather an espionage mission with deadly serious stakes. T. Kingfisher’s new novel begins the tale of a murderous band of criminals (and a scholar), thrown together in an attempt to unravel the secret of the Clockwork Boys, mechanical soldiers from a neighboring kingdom that promise ruin to the Dowager’s city.
If they succeed, rewards and pardons await, but that requires a long journey through enemy territory, directly into the capital. It also requires them to refrain from killing each other along the way! At turns darkly comic and touching, Clockwork Boys puts together a broken group of people trying to make the most of the rest of their lives as they drive forward on their suicide mission.
Twelve hours later, Slate was praying for the sweet release of death.
Her legs felt like… like…possibly there weren’t words in the language for what they felt like.
They had been riding for hours. They left the city, the suburbs, the fields. They crossed several bridges. They passed mrore fields. Trees swept in from the sides and swept out again. Farmers went past in carts. Brenner clung to his mare like grim death, and with much the same expression.
Caliban tried to talk to her once or twice, either to tell her that he’d forgiven her for what she’d said last night, or to tell her that he’d never forgive her for what she’d said last night. Slate bounced along in the saddle, sneezing, and had to ask hin to repeat himself so many times that he gave up. The knight-champion rode ahead and talked to Learned Edmund instead. Apparently the two religious types had found something in common.
Well, the one hates women in general and the other one hates me in particular. Maybe that’s a conversation starter.
This would have annoyed Slate, but she had other things to worry about, like whether her legs were going to fall off.
Fortunately, her horse seemed inclined to follow the other horses, or steering would have been an issue.
She was covered in sweat. Dust stuck to the sweat and made a thin layer of grime that covered her from head to toe. Everyone else was also the same vague dust color. Caliban’s cloak had gone dingy grey practically before they were out of the courtyard.
She would have found that amusing if she’d had the strength.
She discovered that whoever had packed her horse had thoughtfully included a waterskin. She aimed a stream of water into her mouth. It tasted like ambrosia.
How would you know? You’ve never had ambrosia.
It couldn’t be better than this.
Hours passed, like a kidney stone.
Slate stopped thinking, stopped feeling anything. It was easier to do that. If she wasn’t there, she wasn’t feeling the horrible chafe against her thighs, the ache in her hip joints, the dryness of her eyes and nose and tongue. She went away inside her head for a while, in a kind of meditative misery.
There ws nothing but the horse. There had never been anything but the horse. Possibly she had been born on the horse. She was undoubtedly going to die on one.
The Clockwork Boys
The Clocktaur War #1