The free-spirited Larkyn has found her place in the Duchy of Oc. She's a favored student of Mistress Philippa and has mastered riding her flying horse, Black Seraph.
Elsewhere, things are growing far more turbulent. Lark's old enemy, Duke William, is the new ruler of Oc. As he obsesses over his desire to ride a winged horse himself, his growing madness leads him to ignore his traditional duties to protect the Duchy -- leaving the coast open to Aesk raiders, who strike at will.
(from the back cover)
I bought Airs and Graces at a small local bookshop, not realizing that it was book two in a trilogy. Why don't books in a series announce that they're part of a series? I mean, really, how am I supposed to know if there's not at least a list of titles belonging to the series inside the front cover? Poor little unsuspecting me might read the books out of order! And the quote on the front announcing that "the Horsemistress Saga promises to be an exciting ride" is almost worse in that it misleads me to think this is book one. Which it is not.
Happily, I discovered my mistake when I added the book on Goodreads. But did I go out and buy book one? Of course not. I knowingly read this one out of order. Why would I do such an abominable thing? Because there are winged horses and I'm impatient. And it looks like a middle-grade novel, and I don't want to spend money on something that might be full of cheesy mediocrity.
Folks, I have learned my lesson. Never judge a book (solely) by its cover.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this is not a middle-grade book, but an adult or, possibly, a very mature YA novel. It's not inappropriate, but neither is it cheesy or angsty. Airs and Graces contains some mature themes, and the point-of-view rotates between several adults and teenaged Larkyn.
And morals. How wonderful to find a book that has good morals! Two or three ideas cropped up that went nowhere in this book, but that have potential to become beautiful subplots in book three. I really really hope they do.
I don't mind rotating POVs -- in fact, I often enjoy them -- but Toby Bishop likes her cliffhangers a bit too much. During the most tense parts of the book, she would end the chapter and switch to a different POV at the worst possible moment. This is ok on occasion, but every-other chapter for the middle third of the book is not much fun.
Finally, there was more emphasis on politics than I expected. Bishop wrote it well, though, and even the most political scenes were never dry. Which, granted, probably had a lot to do with the fact that everything related to the winged horses in some way. I'm definitely going to try to read book one, because I'm certain it will have more about the horses and less about politics.
I really want a winged horse now.
Have you ever read a book out of order? Did you do it on purpose, or were you deceived?