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Paladin's Hope: 12/19/21
Paladin's Hope by T. Kingfisher is the third of the Saint of Steel novels. Piper is a lich-doctor. Galen is a paladin of a dead god. Both have been enlisted by Constable Earstripe, a gnole who is investigating the headless bodies that have been fished out of the river. Thus begins the weird and wonderful marriage of fantasy, cozy mystery, and romance genres.
This novel has a similar pacing to Double or Muffin by Victoria Hamilton but with the two main plots reversed. Hamilton puts the domestic / contemporary plot first and the mystery second. Here Kingfisher jumps right into the mystery and then segues into the romance between Piper and Galen. What holds the two pieces together is the fantasy setting and the return of the wonder machines.
The middle section which is a disturbing mix The Wonder Engine (2018) and The Hollow Places (2020). This section while tension filled has two problems for me: the obviousness of the impending betrayal and the sheer number of pages devoted to it.
That said, the middle section defines this novel's placement on the road narrative spectrum. While Galen and Piper do end up together, as travelers they aren't yet. The three together are each experts at what they do and are thus, privileged (00). Their destination is uhoria (CC) because the main focus is on how old the structure is and who built it. Their route, though, is literally a death maze (CC).