Paladin is the second book in the Elemental Paladins series by Montana Ash. Book 1, Warden, followed Max’s story, whereas Paladin moves on to follow Darius and Diana, two paladins sworn to protect Max as a Custodian (a direct descendant of Mother Nature).
Diana and Darius first met 800 years ago on the battlefield, and although there was an instant attraction, Darius, being the conformer he is, refused to acknowledge it, leading Diana to tell him that if he wanted another chance with her any time in the future, he would have to do the running.
800 years later, and Diana is still waiting for Darius to make that move. When they both find themselves part of the same Order under Max, they are forced to acknowledge that the intense attraction they feel for each other is still there, but Darius is so ensconced in duty that he refuses to be honest with himself, and Diana is as stubborn as ever, so there is no chance of her making the first move.
To make matters worse, Darius is carrying a hatred within him, one that is slowly eating away at his control, and when Max starts to probe into the reason for the Chades (which I like to think of as modern day Jedi turned into multiple Darth Vadar’s), Darius loses his cool which sparks a whole series of events that threaten the very rules he has sworn to live by.
Although I found Paladin easier to get into than Warden (probably because the story world set up necessary in Warden wasn’t needed here), I didn’t enjoy Paladin as much as Warden – I can’t put my finger on exactly why because I loved Diana and Darius as characters. If I had to hazard a guess, it’s because Max was a secondary character in this novel and yet she was the reason I liked Warden so much. Yes, there were still the odd one liners that had me laughing out loud, but not as many (how could there be because she wasn’t the main focal point of the book), but still, Paladin is the worst for it.
And now on to the main issue with this novel for me – I’m a bit of a grammar and punctuation geek. I wouldn’t say I know every rule back to front (not even close), but it is a part of English language that I hold dear (must be something to do with my age – when I went to school, grammar and punctuation was a big part of the school curriculum).
Unfortunately, Paladin broke a cardinal punctuation rule for me, so much so that it began to grate. I’m not too bothered with a comma out of place (in my opinion, commas are one of those punctuation elements that are very much down to personal taste), but the author littered the text with exclamation marks when they weren’t necessary, so much so, that within certain paragraphs, every sentence ended with an exclamation mark, and (a personal pet peeve) a question mark followed by an exclamation mark. I am guessing the author didn’t use a proof reader because if she had, those would have been weeded out. If those elements were fixed, the novel would be much stronger for it, and yet I am sure there will be plenty of readers scratching their heads wondering what on earth I’m going on about.
I am still intrigued enough to buy the third book, Chade, to see how Max’s powers grow and how her influence and personality blows this rather old-fashioned world to smithereens, but I do hope those things that irked me in this novel are not present (or alternatively, the story drags me so deeply under that I don’t notice them).
I’d give Paladin three stars. Here’s hoping Chade delivers more.