A modern knight, a noble quest, and a magical sword. What could go wrong?
Welcome to the City, where gods run nightclubs, goblins hire out as mercs, sorcerers work their magic, the Fae hold court over every neighborhood…and humanity is blissfully ignorant of it all.
For minor Fae noble Richard Stone, life is going well. He has a decent fiefdom (okay, it’s a slum), a budding acting career (okay, so it’s porn), and one of only five magical swords in the City. An arranged marriage is barely a blip on his worry meter—until his family blade loses its magic. The shame of it puts his noble standing in jeopardy.
To regain his status, Richard needs help. Fortunately, his new bride is a sidhe knight and his servant Simaron has, er, his back. Together they embark on a quest to find the demon who slew his father, investigate a conspiracy that goes to the highest echelons of Fae nobility, and discover a secret family legacy that could ruin his House.
All while keeping up appearances to a society that demands perfection. And they say a noble’s life is easy…
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
House of Stone is an amusing, fun read much in the same vein as the previous offering by the same author, Vampire Fred. Those fans that enjoyed the engaging first person narrator of the previous book will also enjoy Richard, or Dick, here as he tells the reader about his adventures in the lands of the Fae. Richard has a self depreciating quality that lets you laugh along side his self absorbed, humorous actions. The entire story is told to the reader with Richard often telling background information and secondary information that’s needed and relevant to the world building and plot. So this is not a story you experience alongside the characters but one that told to you in amusing and often outlandish ways. For the most part it works but some of the narrator’s quirks do wear over the course of the story.
Immediately we’re introduced to Dick. He’s a viscount within Fae royalty and loosely oversees a patch of the city that is pretty close to a ghetto. He has the requisite mansion but has turned to doing gay porn films to pay for the property taxes. At the start of the film Dick is working on his latest film when he’s informed that he’s due to be married. Despite a close emotional and sexual relationship with his butler, Sim, Dick is pragmatic about his upcoming nuptials and he needs an heir anyway. Unfortunately Richard soon realizes that danger is afoot and mysteries abound involving his new wife, his family past, the family honor, and his half blood lover/butler.
The plot is decent with all the classic political machinations you expect of a ruling class. Here it’s just simply the Fae and there is some decent to pretty good world building and concepts drawn in. Some of the plot twists are predictable or humorous, but the even hand and quick pace keeps the story moving well. The narrator is Richard in first person, present tense. This may bother some readers but I didn’t have an issue with it. As I mentioned, Richard tells you the reader everything going on. He often pauses to relate some bit of information he feels is necessary. This is a double edged sword. While it conveys any world building, background information, and details the reader needs to know to follow along, it constantly reminds you that someone is telling you a story versus showing you.
Richard is a decent character and the most developed of the cast. He has an engaging voice and slacker mental attitude that you can’t help but like. He’s aware he’s lazy but he doesn’t really mind. Some of his habits start to grate over the course of the book, such as his constant saying “ye gods” which I quickly tired of and started to resent. However, he throws in humorous references such as the classic Princess Bride movie line that are fun additions. Yet these are juxtaposed to the deep suspicion that cell phones receive among the Fae. So the Fae can watch cult classics but not use cell phones? It’s a bit corny but then again, the book itself is in probably the most enjoyable ways. I didn’t hold this against the story and it remains a fun, enjoyable tale filled with epic creatures and life lessons.
Beyond Richard as the main character, the others revolve around his sphere but none of the other cast really comes alive. They’re enjoyable and entertaining in various ways but they feel largely incomplete and one note against the most developed character of Richard. There is Richard’s lover/butler/friend Sim who seems to bounce from personality to personality. First he’s an uptight butler, than he’s a passionate lover, than he’s an angry friend, and so on which shows different facets of his personality. Unfortunately all of these feel false and manipulated to give Richard whatever he needs at that time. This extends to all the other characters as well. From his new wife Jen to the mystics, the duke, the queen, and even his aunt, these men and women exist to support and prod Richard into life lessons and changed behavior. They rarely come across as independent entities.
Overall the House of Stone is a fun read filled with fantasy, adventure, and humor. Whether readers will enjoy the tale is largely based on their feelings for the narrator. If you enjoy a first person (present tense) narrator talking to you and telling you his story, this could be an entertaining romp. If you find this boring or too static, perhaps this isn’t for you. While not perfect I found it to be engaging and worth the time to read. As always make your own decisions.
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