THE KING'S GUARD
Girl of Fire and Thorns Novella, Book 0.5
by Rae CarsonComing 07/30/13
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
------------------Hector of Ventierra is the youngest commander of the Royal Guard in his kingdom’s history. But before he was lord commander, he was a lowly squire. In this short fantasy novella, set in the world of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson introduces readers to Hector before he became the man Queen Elisa fell in love with. The King’s Guard also includes a teaser chapter for The Bitter Kingdom, the conclusion to the Fire and Thorns trilogy.
At fifteen years old, Hector is the youngest squire in the most elite military force in the country. And his first day is disastrous. Everyone assumes the only reason he was recruited is his close personal association with King Alejandro, not because he’s really earned it.
But Alejandro needs Hector for a secret mission, one that gives him the chance to prove to everyone—including himself—that he is worthy to be a Royal Guard. Hector must break into the ancient Fortress of Wind to retrieve something so important that the kingdom’s future depends on it. What Hector finds in the fortress will stretch his bond of friendship with his king near to breaking. And it will prepare him to become the fearsome warrior and lord commander Elisa will never let go.
A riveting prequel to Rae Carson’s epic and acclaimed Fire and Thorns series.”
In the beginning, when all us GOF&T fans knew was that the last short story was going to be about Hector, I let my imagination run wild. In my crazier, fangirlier moments I let myself wish that this short story was going to be a blow by blow accounting of every minute that Hector has been in captivity. Then my fevered brain wanted, and I am ashamed to admit it, Hector's side of everything. Please understand that my craziness is such that I have read the two novels upwards of five times each, and they are heavily highlighted. This weekend I was re-reading the series thanks to the phenomenal short story "The King's Guard", when suddenly all my progress was gone, all my beloved passages where UN-HIGHLIGHTED!
Yes, there was a mini meltdown, and no I am not proud- but I digress. I know (thanks to twitter) that I was not the only one willing to trade someones first born for this story to be all about Hector, and Rae Carson herself assured my desperate tweet that it was:
It IS Hector! @ibteen I am having a major freak out over @raecarson's 3rd novella: The King's Guard. I'm hoping it's HECTOR!Needless to say I was in heaven. I was worried when I read the synopsis, a 15 year old Hector? Would I feel especially inappropriate for loving an underage imaginary character? The answer is: I Do Not Care. Lord Commander Hector is imaginary, and in "The King's Guard" he lives up to everything I could have ever wished him to be, in the novels you never know what is going on inside his mind, but you hoped it would be everything that is revealed in King's Guard.
— Rae Carson (@raecarson) April 22, 2013
Setting aside my personal bias for Hector, the story is the strongest of the three novellas. Sooo much is revealed, about Alejandro, Hector, and the awesome supporting cast, even mysterious characters who were a tiny blip in Girl of Fire & Thorns are explained. "The Kings Guard" feels exactly like what a novella should be, complete, and not at all feeling like an aside adventure that takes place away from all the main action. Even if my feelings weren't what they are for Hector, I would have wanted this one to keep going into novel length. It is a true testament to the strength of the whole body of the series that you can take one part of the whole and it feel complete in an of itself.