Book Review : The Liar’s Knot

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review : The Liar’s KnotThe Liar's Knot Published by Orbit on December 7th 2021
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic, Action & Adventure, Dark Fantasy
Pages: 672
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Source: NetGalley

In the second novel of M. A. Carrick's “utterly captivating” Rook & Rose trilogy, a clever con artist, a legendary vigilante, and a dashing crime lord fight to free their city from the clutches of a dark and ancient magic. (S. A. Chakraborty, author of The City of Brass)
Trust is the thread that binds. And the rope that hangs.
In Nadežra, peace is as tenuous as a single thread. The ruthless House Indestor has been destroyed, but darkness still weaves through the city’s filthy alleys and jewel-bright gardens, seen by those who know where to look.
Derossi Vargo has always known. He has sacrificed more than anyone imagines to carve himself a position of power and influence among the nobility, hiding a will of steel behind a velvet smile. He'll be damned if he lets anyone threaten what he's built. Grey Serrado knows all too well. Bent under the yoke of too many burdens, he fights to protect the city’s most vulnerable. Sooner or later, that fight will demand more than he can give. And Ren, daughter of no clan, knows best of all. Caught in a knot of lies, torn between her heritage and her aristocratic masquerade, she relies on her gift for reading pattern to survive. And it shows her the web of darkness that traps her city. But all three have yet to discover just how far that web stretches. And in the end, it will take more than wits and knives to cut themselves free.

The Liar’s Knot was one of my most anticipated books of the year, as I absolutely loved its predecessor, The Mask of Mirrors. While The Mask of Mirrors was one of my favorite books of last year, I found I didn’t quite like The Liar’s Knot as much. I think a big portion of why is mostly sequel syndrome and the fact that a lot of the novelty of the world, characters, and secrets had worn off. Plus, I couldn’t help but feel some large issues were solved a little too easily. 


“Half the pretense of her con might have fallen into dust, but the other half had to keep standing.”


One of the biggest draws of the series for me was the long con that main character Ren is pulling. The Liar’s Knot begins with Ren, a gutter rat orphan and con artist, successfully not only being added to the family register of the Traementis House, but also becoming their temporary  heir. With this major coup, Ren, known as Alta Renata, is no longer under the major threat of being exposed as a fraud. Though this is a victory for the character, I felt it wasn’t for the plot because it rendered a lot of the tension and danger from The Mask of Mirrors gone. Ren is no longer living in one room in a rented mansion, with few possessions and little money, under the constant threat of discovery. 


“She was legally a noblewoman now, and therefore couldn’t be tried for the crime of impersonating a noble…but that didn’t mean she couldn’t suffer other consequences if the truth came out.”


Though there is some danger at being discovered by spies, her frenemy Vargo, and The Rook, they feel more like a distraction or allies than real threats. The way these potential exposures of identity are dealt with are rather anticlimactic, in my opinion, and in the case of Vargo, rather out of character and too easy. It seemed in stark contrast to the cutthroat man who almost let a crane fall on Renata in this novel, and betrayed her in the last. The more secrets that are easily revealed between all the characters in The Liar’s Knot, the less desperately inclined I felt to have to finish the novel. I just didn’t feel the tension of the first novel. 


Gone too was the mystery of the identity of The Rook, the masked vigilante who never kills, but seeks justice against wicked nobles. Knowing his identity, which was revealed right at the end of The Mask of Mirrors, and reading from his perspective, meant that yet another captivating mystery was gone. Though I was initially intrigued by the inclusion of an illustrious secret organization filled with  Nadežra’s elite, I found quickly that it never really amounted to much more than a few off-page orgies. The mysteries of this cult organization are pretty easily dispelled by Tanaquis, who is trusted very readily again and again by Ren and the rest of the gang for reasons.


“There was no point in chasing an enigma, a shadow she’d given up on seeing through. He might know the truth of her, but she would never know the truth of him. It didn’t stop her from wanting it anyway.”


By far my absolute favorite parts of the novel involve everything with the Rook and the Rose, Ren’s crime fighting alter ego. The two scheme together and even plan and carry out an exciting jailbreak, all while flirting. I only wish that there had been more of these exciting ventures of the two kicking serious butt together. Although the flirtatious tension between the Rook and the Rose when they are together makes up for the lack of more adventures under the cover of darkness. I really enjoyed their back and forth banter and the continuous will-they-won’t-they energy that pervades all their interactions. Plus, though The Rook knows The Rose’s identity and readers know The Rook’s, The Rose doesn’t know who The Rook really is. It’s exciting trying to watch her figure it out, and The Rook tries to keep his identity from her, while also reluctantly wishing she’d figure it out. If only their dynamic had been more of the focus of The Liar’s Knot, I would have found it a lot more exciting.  


Ultimately, though I enjoyed returning to the same world and cast of characters in The Liar’s Knot, I just didn’t think this follow-up was as strong as its predecessor, The Mask of Mirrors. Be that as it may, I will definitely still be reading the finale to the trilogy, because I still really love the characters, especially Ren and Grey Serrado, and want to know what happens to them. 


Book Review : The Liar's Knot - Blogging with Dragons

Posted November 24, 2021 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

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