Cover Image: Realm of Knights

Realm of Knights

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Member Reviews

I haves read this ARC twice because it took me awhile to form a judgement on this work. I loved the author’s True Reign and Reign of Secrets series, and I was super excited for this. However, compared to her other works, this was really subpar. The plot seemed unbelievable. I could believe that for eighteen years, no one believed that she was a girl. The simple storyline seemed to stretch too thin. The characters had no development and we’re very unlikable. The cliff hanger seemed very forced and a way to get people to read the next book. Thus, this was very disappointing novel because I have read better books by this author. Still, I will continue to buy the rest of the novels to see if the story and characters have improved.

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Overall, I did not enjoy this book. The plot initially sounded interesting-a woman forced to live her life as a man so that she can inherit her father's land- clearly not the most original concept but it was enough to keep me interested. However, pair the lack of originality with a plot that's devoid of character development and we have a problem.

Despite the premise, the book just didn't go anywhere. It just read in a really strange way: things would just happen over the course of a page, almost like they cut huge chunks of build-up out. This let to every potentially exciting plot point just falling flat. There were some moment of good dialogue but also a fair bit of repetition. The romance in the book was again, rushed, and tedious. It did not add anything to the plot nor the character development.

The ending was the best part of the book, with some interesting ideas raised regarding gender quality within this world of knights and royalty. I wonder if future books in the series will be less haphazard but I have to say I will not be reading them.

Overall, this book could have been something interesting but poor execution resulted in a badly-paced read and not even glimpses at a more exciting follow-up could make me stomach the inconsistent writing.

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Actual Rating: 3.5 stars!

This was a typical YA fantasy but I still enjoyed reading it because I love reading books with these themes where a girl disguises herself as a boy. Although I had issues, I had fun reading this book. Reid was a pretty likable character but I honestly didn't enjoy her infatuation with one of the characters. It was too insta-lovey and too rushed. I'm glad it didn't worked out in the end because it was totally meh.

Reid was a fierce and stubborn heroine who was raised as a son since she was born. In her kingdom, inheritance should be passed down to the son but not to the daughter and breaking this rule is a treason. Reid's pretty skilled in sword fighting which her father is reluctant to acknowledge. When her secret gets discovered by one of the Marsden's Prince, she's forced to choose between working for them or getting tried for the treason. Well, I really enjoyed Reid's character but I wouldn't say she was my favorite either. She was fun and totally kickass. Even though she's reluctant to work for the princes, she does loves the adventure and the freedom it brings. I admired her friendship with her close friends who're also her father's soldiers. There isn't much romance in this book but I'm hoping there's going to be more in the sequel. I was a bit annoyed with Reid's attraction to the broody prince Gordon who never gave much attention to her. There's not many interactions between them but suddenly they have feelings for each other and it seemed very awkward. I'm so glad it didn't worked out. I totally approve of the cocky prince Ackley and the new character we get introduced in the second half. I'm always ready for a good hate to love romance.

The plot was partially predictable but there are some interesting twists that made it an enjoyable journey. I liked the secret society of knights concept. The pacing was good but some parts seemed rushed. I never felt the need to skip the pages. The writing style was simple and easy to understand. The book was written in third person perspective. The world building was decent. It was a medieval style setting and there's no magic. I really want to explore more of the Axian Kingdom.

Overall, this was a nice start to a new YA fantasy series. There's adventure, politics, friendship, a dash of romance, and a little bit of women empowerment. The book concludes with an interesting twist and I can't wait to know what happens next.

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This book was very different and quite intriguing. I didn't love it as much as I hoped I would, but I have a physical copy on the way and I definitely want to reread it!

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I was granted an ARC by Netgalley for an honest review.

Sad to post that I DNF at 20% - not sure what it was, slow pace? storyline. I just felt this book was not really for me.

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3.5/4 stars.

Almost a 'knights of the round table' vibe but with a complex female character as the lead. Espionage, deception, tested loyalties, truths uncovered. A fantastic story that centre's on gender inequality, wrapped up in a political fantasy, with just a smidge of a complicated love story thrown in.

I will be looking out for the sequel, as I am eager to see what lies in store for Reid.

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This gender hiding story is one that you won't soon forget. We learn and follow Reid who has had to pretend to be a male for her entire life. I really loved that this story was more plot than romance. To many times in young adult stories authors overdo the romance when its not needed. So I was so happy when this one didn't do that. For me the pacing was a little off and it took a little while to really get into the story. But overall the story was one that I am glad I read and better yet I didn't have to wait a year for the next titles so score!!

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I was really interested in this book because it sounded a bit like Mulan except that it was the parents idea for her to pretend and then the girl is found out and blackmailed. I think this story could have been amazing but I found that it just fell flat for me.

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*I received a free copy of this ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

This book started off interesting, but by about 50%, it lost its momentum. My main push to finish it has been so I can move on to another book. A shame, since the premise was promising.

The writing suffered from a heavy dose of “tell, not show.” I frequently felt that the author assumed I was too dull to draw my own conclusions.

There is a difference between writing strong female characters and writing weak male characters in order to make all the females seem strong. This book falls into the second category. Every man in Marsden is misogynistic. Women have to wear dresses and be subservient. They can’t own land. They can’t inherit. The only jobs they’re allowed are as tavern maids or prostitutes. They can’t even wander around outside alone. Marsden isn’t just a patriarchal society in which women are lesser than and subservient to men; it is the author’s tool to display all the injustices women can be subjected to, with Axian serving as its utopia-like opposite. She kills a fly by hitting it with a sledgehammer rather than a fly swatter. It’s too much.

Reid herself is very ordinary, aside from having been forced to act as a boy her whole life. She’s really nothing special. Yet when she’s required to go on secret missions and act as a spy and a thief, she’s able to do it despite her male companions’ doubts and worries? Why? Because she’s a woman.

Now shall I describe the pitiful state of the love interest? Imagine the dullest male character you can think of and engage him to another woman (one who is very meek and doesn’t even speak in the novel). Now give him very limited interaction with Reid. Apparently that’s what makes a great love story in this author’s mind. No chemistry whatsoever. Personally, I kept hoping something would happen with Ackley. As it is, nothing happens but some longing glances and “if only” statements.

There are two more books being released. Originally I intended to read them, but I no longer find myself interested.

Note: Can’t recall anything bad except the execution of the story.

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Why did I wait so long to read this?

I really liked Reid. She is in a bit of an identity crisis for most of the book, but she is super strong throughout all of it. She is extremely loyal and willing to do everything she can to protect her family, even at the expense of herself. I just really liked her and had no problem falling into her head as her story progressed.

The whole story has a great pace. I was never bored or wishing things would happen faster or slower. The world building was well done and I was constantly surprised at the events that took place.

There was a little bit of romance that added a good amount of tension, but it didn't take over the story. I can totally see Reid and this character together, but I don't see how that could possibly happen. I am hoping that Reid falls for a certain someone that she is on the way to meet at the end of the book.

I want more and I'm counting down the days until SHADOW KNIGHTS releases.

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Rating - 4 stars

As I review this book, I will try to constantly remind myself that this is marketed as a YA book. I would like to start off by saying that I would have loved this book all the more if it had been written for adults--I think the whole idea of a Duke raising his daughter to be a man, and suddenly this daughter is thrown into a giant political war because she is the only female in the kingdom who knows how to fight (because of the tight gender reforms), is a captivating idea. I really feel like Reid was held back by YA rules; as a woman living in a man’s world, I think Reid would have had a much more difficult and delicate time than what was pictured in this book.

Because this is YA book, instead of Reid dealing with the brutality that women faced back in medieval days (the rape, the beatings, the killings that happened to women constantly), she is instead faced with the existensial question of “Who am I?” Which, although disappointing, I do think is appropriate. If someone of Reid’s likeness had existed in this period of time, the difference between man and woman would not just be “wearing a dress and having to act respectful”. I remember at some point in the story, Prince Gordon says “There’s nothing wrong with a woman who knows her place,” and Reid has a meltdown as if she’s never heard any man say something so awful, which just has to make me laugh. I’m sorry to rain on the parade, but had Reid had grown up with all male friends, it is almost downright stupid that she has such strong reactions to this at her age after a lifetime of being a man. In 2019, some of my male friends <i>still</i> say things about women that are questionable as fuck, so I know in a time where men had no repercussions for the actions against women, Reid would have had a rude awakening long ago as she disguised as a man.

This glaring issue aside, this was an enjoyable read. The idea behind the story was very intriguing, and I thought the contrast in character personalities was very interesting. Sometimes, authors have a bad habit of making all of their side characters blend together, but Davis created a fine cast of characters to follow Reid around.

For a YA book, I also feel Davis nailed the element of surprise. When I first started reading the book, I thought I knew what direction it was heading in. Especially in the very-cliche scene where Reid wears a dress for the first time and does a swirl in the mirror and “realizes her beauty”, I just had to roll my eyes. I got very cocky when it came to trying to guess whom was doing what, but the author definitely kept me on my toes. I was pleasantly surprised, especially after hitting the 75% mark, at the twists and turns the story took.

The writing was lacking; although it was very straightforward and to-the-point (which I am gathering is the author’s style from other reviews), it did lack some beauty and emotion. I felt that was a bit of a miss for me, especially considering the author has an English major, I feel she could have gotten a little bit more involved in the storytelling aspect. But, that aside, the pace was good. It did not feel like I was reading for this book for ten years; things happened fast and in succession, and Reid was always off on a new conquest before you could start yawning.

I think this was a very good debut novel of the series, and I am very intrigued and excited in reading the second book. Realm of Knights successfully hooked me in and had me wanting to know more about these this kingdom it takes place in. I feel that this is definitely the kind of book I would recommend to my younger, junior-high siblings.

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A lot of mixed feelings about this one, the premise seemed promising but I feel like it didn't quite live up to the promise. I wouldn't describe the writing style, dialogue, or character interactions as bad but I also didn't find it particularly exceptional either.

The setting has promise for future development, as does the plot but I don't think they were fully realized in this installment. It felt as though some details were left out that might have made sense to include, while others were included that weren't necessary which can be difficult to digest.

Overall, it was a short quick read that I don't regret and there is enough promise that I would read follow on books in the series.

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Thank you @netgalley and Reign Publishing for providing me with an ARC of this book. This fantasy series is set in the Kingdom of Marsden. The story is told from the perspective of Reid Ellington who was raised as a man despite being a woman. She is presented to her county as the heir of the Ellington county. Reid is thrust into difficult situations one after the other on her 18th birthday. She is forced to follow the orders of the Princes of the Kingdom of Marsden to help absolve her father from being tried for treason. Her life takes a turn for the unexpected after arriving at the Palace. Her loyalties to the crown, the country, and her family are questioned as she battles her way to figure out what the truth is and whom to trust. What she knew of her country and King is not what it seems and she is being used a pawn in the game played by players who are not yet revealed leaving readers with a promising start to a great series. It's a great fantasy story and I loved it. I can't wait to read the next in the series which will be coming out in December. I gave the book 5 stars. Definitely check the book out!! It is amazing!!!

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True rating: 1.5/5 stars.

Let’s start with the writing, folks. I found the writing to be quite dull, quite bland. It just was not gripping or descriptive enough, but it was a little too simple to read. I just kept wanting more descriptions for better visualizations of the setting of this kingdom because I was intrigued by the setting when I learned that this book was set in a medieval time period. I just kept wanting more out of the writing because I wanted a better understanding of this world and I wanted to feel like I was completely invested in the setting and in the story. The writing wasn’t only just dull, but it was not the best grammar wise either. Some sentences were not done well and I especially saw a lot of sentences that were missing some words. Which not everyone is perfect and I understand that, but there were just so many errors. The writing was just lacking in a lot of different aspects. I was not a fan of it.

The setting was a unique one. Medieval time period, kingdoms, all intrigued me so much. As mentioned above, the writing could’ve done a better job of describing this unique world to allow a reader to completely dive into the world. It was just very basic descriptions and it was hard to connect with the storyline. I did enjoy the time period and the setting of this story.

The characters in this story were dull and that is because of the dull writing. There was not one character in this novel that I felt connected with and one that stuck with me when I finished the novel. Reid was annoying at times and quite predictable and I was typically left rolling my eyes with some of her thoughts and dialogue. This story did not have any diversity either which, of course, is frustrating at times. I like to see more representation in the stories I read.

There was some romance in the story with one of the men that Reid was traveling with (I cannot remember his name for the life of me) to the main kingdom and it was just a sort of random love interest. There was no leading up to the romance between the two and it was too sudden. I feel like there could have been better development with the romance aspect because I don’t think it meshed well with the story. The romance seemed immature to me too.

Overall, I did like the story but there were many mistakes and negatives that I could not get over with this story. I liked the concept of it and thought the world was unique in a way, but I just felt like how the writing was handled left it a little meh for me. I could see this story being improved immensely if the author worked towards building a better style of writing to help give this story life essentially. At many points, it was dull like I mentioned before and the pacing was so slow and I was left just bored at times. I just did not connect with the story or any of the characters and I feel like that is an important aspect that I look for in books. When you feel like you are truly experiencing the emotions and what the characters are going through is when you can actually enjoy a story in my opinion.

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A loved this book so much and can't wait for the sequel to come out. It was an amazing read with great characters.

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I enjoyed reading my first book by Jennifer Davis - and it won't be my last. Reid, the youngest of five daughters born to a duke has lived all of her life as a young lord rather than a young lady to protect her father's dukedom and her inheritance. An encounter with princes of her land, Reid finds herself in a unique role of playing both a man and a woman to serve the crown and free her father from future dangers. I had fun reading Realm of Knights though I felt Reid's character could be developed a bit stronger or a little differently if she had been raised to live her life as a boy for 18 years. I'm also unsure of the relationships that have been developed and look forward to reading a sequel that might tighten the characters/relationships up a bit for me. It's easy to picture the worlds that have been described and the frustrating role of being a subservient woman in world that's full of secrets.

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This was an immersive entertaining read.
A new favorite of mine and a new author I adore! Thank you for letting me read this early!
I'm so excited for this to be released!

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**Disclaimer: I was given a free e-book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley.**

Title Realm of Knights (Knights of the Realm #1)

Author Jennifer Anne Davis

Description from Amazon

Reid has spent her whole life pretending to be a man so she can inherit her father’s estate, but when a chance encounter threatens to expose her lie, she is forced to risk everything.

In the kingdom of Marsden, women are subservient to men and land can only pass from father to son. So when Reid Ellington is born, the fifth daughter to one of the wealthiest landholders in the kingdom, it’s announced that Reid is a boy.

Eighteen years later, Reid struggles to conceal the fact she’s actually a young woman. Every day, her secret becomes harder to keep. When one of Marsden’s princes sees her sparring with a sword, she is forced to accept his offer and lead her father’s soldiers to the border. Along the way, she discovers a covert organization within the army known as the Knights of the Realm. If Reid wants to save her family from being arrested for treason and robbed of their inheritance, she will have to join the Knights and become a weapon for the crown.

To protect her family, Reid must fight like a man. To do that, she’ll need the courage of a woman.

Initial Thoughts

I was really excited to read this book. The premise sounded really interesting and I always enjoyed the story of Mulan (and all of the retellings I have read this year), and this book sounded right up that alley.

Some Things I Liked

Complex political landscape. I loved the contrast between the vastly different kingdoms of Marsden and Axian as well as the many layers between the families of each ruling family.
Female identity. Reid spent her entire life pretending to be a man and when she was finally allowed to be “herself” and go about as “Lady Reid”, she felt more restricted than ever. Reid never felt more like herself than when she was pretending to be someone else. I am excited to continue to get to know “the real Reid”.
One Thing I Didn’t Like

Romance. Reid was basically oblivious to any romantic attention sent her way and I really didn’t ship her with any one (except maybe for Ackley). I thought she had no chemistry with anyone and the ending totally threw me. No spoilers but I have absolutely no idea what’s going on with the romance element now.

Series Value

It took me a while to get through this book. I started reading it back in September and didn’t finish until this afternoon. I read several books between then and now. This was a slow build but, I would continue with the series. There are a lot of promising elements that developed in the second half of the book that I would like to see more of.

Final Thoughts

I started reading this booking thinking it was going to be a Mulan-esque story. I got some of those vibes, but I think overall, this is a different story. There are similar elements, but in general, comparing Realm of Knights to Mulan is an apples to oranges comparison. I really enjoyed this book and I would continue with the series. I think it had some elements that I wasn’t crazy about but hopefully those will be resolved in the next two books.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Recommendations for Further Reading

Shadow Knights by Jennifer Anne Davis – I haven’t read this one yet, but I plan to. If you liked the first book, definitely check out the next book coming out in December 2019.
Defy by Sara B. Larson – if you liked the “woman disguised as a man” element of this book, give the Defy trilogy a try. There are also similar political issues in both series.
The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty – if you liked the spy elements in Realm of Knights, give this trilogy a try.

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Book – Realm of Knights
Author – Jennifer Anne Davis
Series – Knights of the Realm
Cliffhanger? - Yes
Publication Date – September 10, 2019
Genre – YA Fantasy
Rating – 4 1/2 out of 5 Stars

Complimentary copy generously provided by the author through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts - Story

Jennifer Anne Davis is one of my favorite fantasy writers and she is always my “go to” author when I’m in a fantasy funk and need to be pulled out.

And…she didn’t disappoint with Realm of Knights. I was sucked into this story and couldn’t put it down for the life of me. Yes, it is a bit predictable, but the story overall is enjoyable and you can’t beat a book with the heroine who is strong and not fluffy/stupid.

Also, another selling point to this story is the cast of characters – it’s not just Reid who wins your heart but the rest of them too! I can’t stress enough that this book is like chocolate where you can’t just read a page or a chapter! You will be hooked.

But…..and this isn’t negative or positive….the story to me was just too short…I could have kept reading and I wanted more and more! I am anticipating the next book in the series and can’t wait to see what happens next.

Reason for Reading – NetGalley Review
Story – 5 out of 5 Stars
Steam – 4 out of 5 Stars
Angst – 5 out of 5 Stars
Writing – 5 out of 5 Stars
Content Flow – 5 out of 5 Stars
Would Read More from Author? Yes
Recommend To – Lovers of something addicting in fantasy

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(I got the uncorrected version from NetGalley for an honest review.)

This review took me ages because reading this book felt like a chore. I got to exactly 60% of this book before I realized: I can’t put myself through the remaining 40% and that should be the review. And maybe that’s not completely the story's and the writing's fault, even though they don’t help - it's just that, judging by the blurb, I expected a relatable protagonist, a strong gender-non-conforming girl in a constricting patriarchal setting.

What I got was… Reid. Here are some quotes from/about Reid.
- “Some days, she envied her sisters and the other women around town who wore dresses and were courted by men.”
- “She sighed. Just once she’d like to wear a pretty dress and know what it felt like to be treated as a lady.”
- “She almost screamed—like a girl—in victory.”

So, yeah, I was disappointed.
Realm of Knights tried so hard to convince me that male attention, heterosexuality and feminity are liberating and rebellious. It tried, kind of hard, to convince me the protagonists are all badass but it failed abysmally at delivering the whys. It tried, pretty hard, to get me to give a damn about the love triangle (which is a huge portion of the story) between Reid and the two misogynistic princes. The book does nothing to subvert any tropes, and is instead written from cliché to cliché: the ‘tomboy’ who goes through a makeover, the ‘not like the other girls’ lines, this:
- “I grew up with three older brothers who teased me relentlessly. I can be just as pigheaded as them. And tough.”
...and this:
- “‘Tell me, do you have any friends of the female variety?’
She didn’t have a single female friend, but he didn’t need to know that. ‘I have four sisters. That is more than enough.’
Ackley barked out a laugh, garnering the attention of a few nearby men. ‘I have a sister, so I understand completely.’”

The writing is painfully stilted sometimes* (but then again, it could be way more polished in the published version) and, as another reviewer put it, weirdly paced. Choices made to trigger the plot (like Reid going for a swim naked in the woods immediately after seeing a commitee of strangers who are there to investigate her family - seriously?) either fell as extremely awkward, or made the characters sound terminally idiotic.

* an example: “The Gast River came into view. Reid nudged her horse, urging it to go faster so she could get a good look at the sight before her. The horse trotted around Gordon and his men. At the riverbank, she pulled the horse to a halt. The crystal-clear water rushed by, rolling over rocks. On the other side of the quarter-mile-wide river was the county of Axian. Dense trees lined the bank with not a single person in sight. The setting sun cast an orange glow over the water.” - this reads like a sermon.

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