October 06, 2011

Queen of Swords by Sara Donati

It took me a long time to warm up to this book. That being said, I do think, overall, that I enjoyed it. The fifth in the Into the Wilderness series by Sara Donati, it was only this book that I learned the authors real name. I have to say I was quite shocked that Rosina Lippi-Green was actually Sara Donati. As a linguistics graduate I am much familiar with her work there, and it does a lot to explain why the accents and "voices" of these characters are so accurate in these works.

As a bit of a recap (and possible spoiler for the previous books) we are first introduced to Elizabeth, a spinster teacher from England who has come to New York to teach the children there. She falls in love with rugged Nathaniel Bonner and elopes with him in an attempt to restore some property to its rightful owners. Next, they journey to Scotland when their twins are kidnapped and have a wild time trying to rescue them. Later on down the road the story focuses more on Hannah, Nathaniel's daughter from his first marriage and her efforts to be a doctor in a time that is not very appreciative of her talents. The fourth book brings Jennet from England to America so that she can woo Luke Bonner. The fight between the British and Americans have started and she and Hannah go undercover to rescue Hannah's brother from his captivity by the British. It is at the end of this novel that Jennet is kidnapped and forced to go South.

Queen of Swords takes place roughly a year after the last book. We are shown a continuation of what happens when Luke Bonner's wife to be is kidnapped and taken south. The book opens with her being rescued and we learn that she has borne a child to Luke in the time she has been away. This child was sent away for its safety and they must retrieve it before they can go back home.

There is a snag however, in that the man who took the child, and his grandmother are determined to keep him. Jennet steals him away and must hide in the city with some old friends until they can escape safely. To go along with this, Hannah Bonner has joined her brother in helping to rescue Jennet and her son. She falls sick in New Orleans and loses touch with everyone until gaining the help of a dashing man who is half brother to a doctor she studied under. When he decides to fight on the American side of the war for the battle of New Orleans, she engages on as a doctor to be with him.

There are many more adventures of course. This book is full of them. However, as they are more side plots I am not going to go into detail about them with this review. Suffice to say that the reader is kept on the edge of their seat throughout the whole book.

Despite this adventure though, as I said before it was hard for me to get into this book. The first part reads very slowly and I found myself putting the book down for a break a few times. However, by the time it got to the middle I was fully engaged in the story and couldn't put it down. I believe part of my trouble was that I had grown to love the characters of Elizabeth and Nathaniel, the original protagonists in this series and it was hard to read a book without them in it. Luckily though, one of my favorite characters, Hannah, is restored to brilliant description and personality in this novel. After the last I had feared that her character had been given up on and was much relieved to find her the focus once again.

Donati's writings is very easy to read. She is not heavy handed on the description, but still includes enough to give you a sense of the place she sets her stories in. My only complaint on her writing would be that I'm not thrilled with her use of letters as a means of plot continuation. I can't stand the letters for some reason; perhaps because there always seems to be more than needed and I grow tired of seeing the format.

While at first I wasn't sure I wanted to continue the series, now after finishing the book I look forward to the next one. It is supposed to be the last book and it is my hope that all loose ends will be tied up. Truly though I think Donati is up to the task and I will enjoy it greatly.

Queen of Swords
Copyright 2006
562 pages

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