Hey, writers and readers!
It’s not a good month without an indie novel or two. Today I’ll be reviewing Be Careful What You Joust For by Ryan Hauge, which is the first book in the Pentavia series. Check out the review below and make sure to give your two cents in the comments section if you’ve already read the book, too!
Rating: 5 stars
The fiercest knights in the realm are coming together to compete in the Joust for Arwin’s Lance, a tournament that will divide even the closest alliances. The winner alone will have the power to start or prevent a war from unfolding across the peaceful lands of Pentavia.
House Hornbolt, a prominent family that desires peace above all else, is hosting the tournament. The Hornbolt’s have always been strict followers of tradition. The first born son wears the armor of a knight. The second takes the priestly Oath of Arwin. And the daughters get married off to the most eligible suitors.
The eldest son is the favorite to win the tournament. But the rest of the Hornbolts aren’t as eager to follow the paths laid out for them. What if the second born wants to be a knight too? And what if the eldest daughter just gave her heart to a common thief?
Customs are meant to be broken. But that’s not all that threatens to shatter House Hornbolt, not when a secret deeper than the late king’s grave is unearthed right before the joust.
The fate of Pentavia hangs in the balance as war becomes imminent. And the scales are about to tip.
One wrong move and everything could fall to pieces.
What I Enjoyed:
So there’s definitely a lot of things to enjoy if I gave a book 5 stars, right? I’m a sucker for characters, and Hauge does a fantastic job in creating a whole cast of characters who break their respective molds. Here’s a breakdown of some characters I particularly enjoyed:
Isolda—Yes, a duke’s wife, but she’s got her whole separate life of using underground businesses to get information about her father’s death. I love how communicative and empathetic she is to her children. Hauge avoids a lot of cringey drama by letting Isolda get right to the point and establishes trust really quickly with the other characters.
Bastian—I envisioned him as a Flynn Ryder kind of a dude; he is a charming thief after all. I enjoyed his deeper backstory, his morals, and his honesty with what he wants and who he is.
Garrion—For the longest time, you don’t really know how to feel about him, because he reads as a typical dad and duke: they don’t really know what people want and assume they’re doing the right thing for others. He’s the opposite of Isolda in that regard. He also has a fascinating backstory; he isn’t just a hot-headed zealot like all the other dukes.
Rixin—The story sets him up to be really untrustworthy and cunning, but like most antagonists, he’s a gray character. I sympathized with him in many ways, and you’ll see that there’s a method to his madness. He’s definitely not as conniving as Marcus assumes him to be.
Oriana—Yay, Oriana! She falls in love with both Rixin and Bastian in an interesting love triangle; I honestly can’t pick which one I like more, so the next book will need to help me decide. However, she’s more than the love triangle or her looks. She’s clever, she learns to value herself, and she uses her agency as much as her life path will allow.
Nesta—What a snot of a baby sister. Y’all will love her.
Overall, I was impressed about how realistic each character was; the parents sounded like parents and the kids sounded like kids. The genders were also very realistic, too. Either he had phenomenal beta readers, Hauge knows his characters, or both.
My Final Thoughts
So I was overall super impressed with the characters, world building, and storytelling decisions. Hauge definitely establishes a flourishing world with culture, religion, customs, and history. Hauge also helps you get to know each character to the point where you’re not sure who to root for. I certainly can’t wait until the next book where I can learn more about who wins out in the end.
I hope I shared enough to still pique your curiosity without giving too much away. If you’d like to learn more about Ryan Hauge and his work, you can catch up with him via social media:
Have you read this novel? Share with me in the comments! You can also see all of my other book reviews by checking our the Book Reviews tab.