At the start of this very long novel, Hayley is attempting to win a slot as a squire. After being brutalized and humiliated by one of the other hopefuls (and even humiliating herself), Hayley is chosen. This book hit on many themes, but overall, the book felt surprisingly dark. Hayley has grown up in harsh circumstances before becoming a squire, and this brotherhood (and sisterhood) of knights reveals a different kind of darkness than she has known, but darkness nonetheless. All around her seem untrustworthy, and several of them are out for blood. The world this author has created is a harsh one, and I didn’t particularly enjoy it. I don’t like books that just come across so dark and cruel. I thought the book was too long, without progressive complications to keep me interested. One thing I find myself questioning from the beginning is how a thief who was theoretically heading to the gallows was able to take part in the squire recruitment process.
I also didn’t like the swearing in this book. In general, I don’t like profanity in books unless it is used to help illuminate character. I like my fantasy books to have cleaner language, as it really does yank me right out of the story to see the use of modern profanity in a medieval-style fantasy.