Servant of the Crown by Duncan M. Hamilton
Servant of the Crown (2020) closes out Duncan M. Hamilton’s DRAGONSLAYER trilogy, a series that I thought started out weakly with Dragonslayer and then improved somewhat, though not quite enough, with Knight of the Silver Circle. Unfortunately, I can’t say the third book continues that improvement, meaning I can’t recommend the series.
The book picks up shortly after the events of its predecessor with Guillot, Solene, and Pharadon trying to stop Prince Bishop Amaury from gaining the last Cup of Enlightenment. Guillot and Solene want to prevent Amaury from achieving a nearly unstoppable level of magical power while Pharadon needs the cup to enlighten what may be the last of his kind. When they fail, Pharadon has to seek other lost cups (finding another dangerous foe in the process) while Gil has to turn to more mundane military efforts to stop the Prince Bishop.
As with the other books, Servant of the Crown moves along quickly and smoothly. The strongest moments are the fight scenes, both one-on-one scenes and major engagements, all of which are rendered in clear and excitingly vivid fashion.
Unfortunately, the rest of the novel doesn’t fare so well. The plot, despite being quick-moving, is marred by more than a few events that happen too easily (magic, in particular, comes too easily and does too much), too conveniently, or too implausibly, leading me to write several notes along the lines of “why wouldn’t she…” or “why didn’t he… ”
Characterization is thin, and that, combined with how quickly the plot moves, means emotional moments that could have been mined to some strong effect fall flat. With my highest ranking of the three novels being a 2.5, as noted in the intro, I just can’t recommend the DRAGONSLAYER series, though Hamilton’s facility with action scenes and pace shows promise with a bit more work on plot and character.