Audiobook Review: The Paladin Caper by Patrick Weekes
“Archvoyent Cevirt was an Urujar as well. Judging a man by the color of his skin was the mark of a foolish and uneducated mind, and Westteich would certainly have no problem with an Urujar who worked his way into a position of power and then respected the heritage that had come before. That said, Westteich could not help but feel that Cervit had turned the color of his skin into a sort of agenda, and upsetting the delicate balance of the Republic because of what had or had not been done to someone’s ancestors was also the mark of a foolish and uneducated mind.”
Genre: Fantasy, Satire
Series: Rogues of the Empire #3
Publisher: 47North (October 27, 2015)
Narrator: Justine Eyre (Brilliance Audio)
Wendy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Reading the words above within the first few pages of this book made me raise an eyebrow. When I started this series, one of the first things I had to do was praise Weekes for his inclusivity:
First of all, let me lay down all the praise for Weekes’ ability to write people of colour like they are *GASP* people. Not foreign objects. Not magical creatures. Not a unique species that shouldn’t really exist in worlds filled with fae and dragons. Weekes isn’t afraid to deal with the racial and cultural differences of his various characters, but when race is a factor, it’s all within context.
Weekes also answers that troublesome question of “How do you write strong female characters[TM] if you’re a guy??” Well, kids, you write women the same way you write everyone else: like they are human beings (cuz we actually are).
In the first two books, this continues to be a thing–women and people of colour and varying sexuality, all getting to hang out with elves and dragons and demons like it ain’t no thang. As far as fantasy goes, this doesn’t happen often, so when it does, I’m gonna have to point it out–because representation matters. But in the third book, there’s a little more going on. Weekes is no longer pulling any punches. He has an agenda and he’s not afraid to bare his teeth and shove it down your throat–much to the annoyance of some readers. Interestingly, in my review of other reviews, the people who rated the book low all complained about the social justice aspect that takes over the plot in a rather heavy-handed manner. And it most certainly is heavy-handed. Where Weekes previously simply gave representation to marginalized characters, now his Rogues are taking on the MRAs and the 1% to save the world in satire that seeps right into reality, making his personal views quite clear.
But I don’t like reality with my fantasy! you say. I’ve been tricked into reading this satirical comedy only to find that it has a serious message! Oh you poor, sad puppy. You’re just going to have to get over it. If you don’t think our society still needs to be hit over the head with the fact that this world is not just the stomping ground of rich bigoted white dudes, let me just remind you that Donald Trump is a thing happening right now.
As for the story itself–well, as I said, this does take reality quite seriously this time around, but The Paladin Caper is no less amusing than its predecessors. Loch (whose death was greatly exaggerated) and her team are up to their usual hijinx, but this time, the fate of the world is at stake as they race to stop the ancients from returning to claim the world they once controlled. The struggle is real and they are thwarted at every turn, betrayed by friends and family and lovers alike. It almost seems like this is it for our not-quite-heroes! Pfft. Don’t be silly. They got this all under control. As with any good caper, the key isn’t so much what they achieve in the end, since we know the good-ish guys are going to win, but how they pull it off. Sometimes, it gets a little crazy, but that too is part of the fun, with the rest of the fun coming from the main characters we’ve come to know and love.
This book digs a little deeper into those characters, some of whom went through some significant changes in the previous book and are having trouble dealing with it. Ululenia in particular, is struggling with her new dark side:
“I am sex and death, desire and destruction. They will die in ecstasy knowing that I was their fulfillment. My pleasure, their end.”
Meanwhile the death/love priestess, Desidora, is coming to terms with her dichotomy, as well as the loss of her former friend and weapon. Oh and then there’s Kail, whose “your mother” jokes take on a whole new meaning this time around.
Finally, I cannot finish this series without bestowing much praise upon the narrator, Justine Eyre. There are some narrators who make it impossible for me to read a series myself because of how damn good they are. Eyre’s voice work is stunning, uniquely bringing everyone to life and never missing a comedic beat.
The Paladin Caper wraps up this series perfectly, complete with a proverbial walk into the sunset. Thanks, Mr. Weekes. It’s been a really, really fun ride.