In Shining Armor: Great hero, loose plot

In Shining Armor by Elliott James urban fantasy book reviewsIn Shining Armor by Elliott JamesIn Shining Armor by Elliott James

The fourth book in Elliott JamesPAX ARCANA series is In Shining Armor (2016). In this installment, someone has kidnapped baby Constance, the god-daughter of John Charming. She was being guarded by a team consisting of both Knights and werewolves, so now the Knights are blaming the werewolves and vice versa. This threatens to upset their recently established, but tentative, truce, and the results could be disastrous, especially for John Charming. It’s up to him and his strange group of allies to figure out what happened to Constance and, hopefully, get her back safely. Otherwise, a deadly supernatural war is likely to break out.

As John and his team investigate the kidnapping, they run into all sorts of mythical creatures (many having to do with water) including redcaps, rusalkas, gorgons, undines, nagas, nixies, frost giants, banshees… I could go on. There are also skinwalkers who, we learn, have given the Knights much trouble in the past, and have plans to take over the world using drugs and portals made of magical trees. Oh, and the Crusader branch of the Knights appears to have something sinister up their sleeves, too.

There’s plenty of action (some of it is quite brutal) and some pretty cool magic in In Shining Armor. We learn a lot more of John’s backstory and it’s clear that John is rising up in the ranks of both the werewolf and Knights organizations. John is a great protagonist and it’s fun to listen to the story from his point of view.

In Shining Armor by Elliott JamesThe problem with the PAX ARCANA books is the plotting. It feels far-fetched and random and this has become more noticeable with each installment. The novels don’t feel connected to each other except in the loosest sense. In each book we’re introduced to a strange mix of creatures, magic systems, and events that seem to come out of nowhere because they hadn’t been introduced or even hinted at before. It feels like Elliott James is making it all up as he goes along. Some readers won’t mind this, but if you want well-planned and tight plotting (definitely my preference), I think you’ll find this the weakest aspect of PAX ARCANA. I also think Elliott James has the potential to correct this in a future series.

I continue to listen to Tantor Audio’s editions of this series. Roger Wayne is perfectly cast as John Charming. I’ll listen to the next book, Legend Has It, soon.

Published in 2016. This fairy godmother’s got claws. When someone kidnaps the last surviving descendant of the Grandmaster of the Knights Templar, it’s bad news. When the baby is the key to the tenuous alliance between a large werewolf pack and the knights, it’s even worse news. They’re at each other’s throats before they’ve even begun to look for baby Constance. But whoever kidnapped Constance didn’t count on one thing: she’s also the goddaughter of John Charming. Modern-day descendant of a long line of famous dragon slayers, witch finders, and wrong righters. John may not have any experience being a parent, but someone is about to find out that he can be one mean mother…

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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  1. It does sound like he’s in “needs more critters!” mode, too.

  2. Kristi Bauers /

    I’m a newbie to the werewolf world but something about it has me hooked! I’m definitely looking into this series next. I just finished Moira Ashe- Enemy Within by Brendon Bertram. It was so twisty and empowering. I loved that it wasn’t really predictable and the author leaves you little breadcrumbs throughout the story. It was a quick read but in such a great way, I found it here, Highly recommend!

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