My rating: 5 of 5 stars
First of all, don’t take it too seriously.
I don’t believe that you grade every work on the same scale, you grade them based on what they were intended to be. This book wasn’t written to be compared to Stephen King or Shakespeare (depending on which end of the scale you tend to fall to) – it was written to be enjoyed. I have a feeling that if Leo were alive he’d tell you he had a ball writing this series, and leave it at that.
The basic premise is the same as the first book. Conrad is stuck in 13th century Poland, and is fighting to survive, knowing that in nine years the Mongols will be invading. His long range plans of defending his homeland get a bit more complicated however when he sets free a group of slaves only to find out the Knights of the Cross were doing something legal.
The last half of the book is Conrad waiting for his trial by combat to decide how the slaves and other loot will be distributed from the caravan he assaulted. Everyone around him thinks he’s done for it, which I found a little hard to believe given how he handles everything else in that time, but they do at least provide an explanation about how his poor lance work will be his undoing.
In the process of practicing, Conrad discovers a bit more about Anna, his horse, who I love as a character. I get the impression that Leo was a very religious guy. The theme of casting good will out only to have it returned to him tenfold is a pervasive underlying premise. But it resonates with me at least.
My only complaint is that these books are available on the kindle and I had to purchase from Baen’s website and fight with the file formats to read them on my e-reader. What a joke. I’m sure it is all so they can get a few extra pennies per copy.
Overall, a great second novel. I especially love the end fight, where every desperate action Conrad takes is interpreted completely differently by everyone else present. Just something about that fight scene always makes me smile.