Ryan Hauge and Ivy Smoak. Be Careful What You Joust For (Pentavia Book 1). 2018. See here to buy the book.
Ryan Hauge and Ivy Smoak are husband and wife and wrote this book together. It is a work of fantasy.
Here is a description of some of the characters:
Isolda: Isolda is the wife of Duke Garrion. She has royal blood herself, in that her father was the king of the realm, and her brother Ivan is the current king. Isolda has been living a secret life as the crime lord Lady Marsilia. In that capacity, she sees the corpse of the god Arwin, which is a sacred relic. Because that body is in Garrion’s domain, she suspects that Garrion killed her father and stole the relic. Isolda is also a bit of a religious skeptic.
Garrion: This book alternates among some of the main characters, conveying their perspectives in the third-person. We see early on that Garrion is a devout, sensitive soul. He has his prejudices, especially against the people known as the Rashidi, but he desires to follow the way of Arwin and to pursue peace. Did he kill Isolda’s father? Well, believe it or not, he wanted to. The book spills this early on and explains why he felt this way, so it was not a big mystery that was left until the very end. There still is the mystery, however, about who actually did kill Isolda’s father. This does get resolved at the end.
Marcus: Marcus is the firstborn son of Isolda and Garrion. As such, he is obligated to participate in a jousting contest. The winner receives the position of Arwin’s Lance, which apparently has a lot of power, considering that the person holding it can declare war. Word on the street is that Marcus is the second coming of Arwin, and that his victory in the joust will usher in an era of peace among the nations. Isolda is skeptical about this interpretation of the prophecy, and about prophecy, period.
Rixin: Rixin is the son of King Ivan. He will be Marcus’ opponent in the jousting contest. Rixin is cocky and quite sure of himself, but he can be a nice person.
Oriana: Oriana is the firstborn daughter of Isolda and Garrion. Oriana is obsessed with marrying Prince Rixin, but she remembers that Rixin did not care for her when they were children, and there is word that Rixin might marry the Rashidi princess Navya. Then Oriana meets Bastian, and that complicates the picture.
Bastian: Bastian is a thief on the streets, who uses his pet squirrel, Nut, to distract people while he steals. His father was a lord and lost everything. Bastian rescues Oriana, and they develop feelings for each other.
Terric: Terric is the second-born son of Isolda and Garrion. As the second-born son, he is to be a priest of Arwin. But he does not want to be a priest, confined to a monastery, even though he enjoys hearing some of the tales in the Book of Arwin. He wants to see the world and become a squire. Terric is rather precocious. Terric and Bastian try to help each other in their goals, with laughable results.
Reavus: Reavus is the brother of Isolda and King Ivan. He has no children, but he has exercised a great deal of influence on Prince Rixin. Reavus was a butcher at the Wizard’s War, and Garrion suspects that Reavus is just itching to get the country into a war with Rashid and intends to use a victory by Rixin in the jousting contest to bring that about. Garrion thinks that Reavus hopes to do this so that Reavus can be glorious in battle, but Reavus also has a personal ax to grind against the Rashidi.
Sir Aldric: Sir Aldric is Garrion’s long-time friend and right-hand man. He does what Garrion says and investigates when he is asked to do so. He is a no-nonsense sort of person.
The book was enjoyable to read. It reminded me somewhat of a 1950’s-1960’s medieval drama, in full color.
The mythological-religious aspect was interesting, but, hopefully, the next book in the series will explain it more. Arwin was obviously a Jesus-like character, who took a retreat into the desert, taught peace, and sacrificed himself for his people. There is no empty tomb in his case, however, since his corpse is a relic. And it is not explained how he is the one true God. The book also could have gone deeper into Garrion’s dislike for the Isolda’s father. Garrion did not care for the king’s reckless war policies, which took the life of Garrion’s father, but he also wanted to establish a pure cult of Arwin, in contrast to the established cult. His religious motive was not explained.
There is also the question of what Isolda did as Lady Marsilia that made her a crime lord, pursued by the authorities. And why was she a crime lord? As far as I recall, this was not really explained. It seemed as if she primarily went undercover to learn how and why her father was killed.
There are details that are not resolved in this book, and the book ends on a major cliffhanger. That’s why there’s a sequel!
The Afterword of the book is interesting because Ryan Hauge talks about the role his wife played in developing the characters, as well as the research that he did to make this book better.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the authors. My review is honest!