ARC Review: The Second Guard by J.D. Vaughn

So I find it amusing that most of the highlights I made on my Kindle regarding this book revolved around what the characters were eating. Not that that was the only thing I paid attention to…obviously…

THE SECOND GUARD

by J.D. Vaughn
Disney-Hyperion, April 2015
Children’s fantasy
Rated: cookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookierating/ 5 cookies
provided by NetGalley

secondguardIn the peaceful realm of Tequende, all second-born children at the age of fifteen must journey to the Alcazar to fulfill the mandate of the Oath of Guilds. There they train to earn a place among the Queen’s guard, or work as indentured servants.

For Sun Guilder Talimendra of the Magda River Traders, joining the Second Guard will not only bring honor to her family, it will be a chance to uphold her mother’s legacy. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears will be spent to bear the weight of this prestigious title, and Tali is prepared to make that sacrifice even as she competes against hundreds of other pledges.

But her loyalty will be tested when she uncovers a secret that could drag Tequende into all-out war.

Gifly Thoughts

The Second Guard has mostly two things going for it: the fact that the world is largely Spanish and Mesoamerica-inspired, and the fact that the matriarchal monarchy has been ruling strong through twenty-something generations. This is not to say that I disliked the other stuff, but certainly when I read the historical bits about queens and Tequende and how well the matriarchs have been treating the nation in general, I was just happy. (They even have a system of how the queens are chosen and groomed! It’s interesting and certainly refreshing compared to how the medieval dynasties usually do things.)

Then there’s the trio of characters–well, four including Brindl–who become fast friends. Tali, Zarif, and Chey started out a little stiff for me, with their formal language feeling awkward at some points. Later on, though, I saw this change, and I have to admit that I loved the group of friends and how culturally different they are. Tali’s a Sun Guilder of the merchant class, Zarif’s a Moon Guild scholar, and Chey and Brindl are Earth Guild workers. Each guild worships one of the three Tequendian gods: Intiq, Elia, and Machue respectively. It was an interesting set of mythologies, and I loved reading about the different rituals and observances within each guild.

Talimendra was certainly my favorite character, hands down. She was all types of gutsy, often temperamental when it comes to things that piss her off, slightly reckless, but determined and loyal. She knows how to take care of herself, and she certainly knows how to take care of her friends when push comes to shove. Tali also doesn’t get her infatuation (or schoolgirl crush, I would say) take over her regular senses, and–this being a children’s adventure fantasy–the romance was at a minimal and subtle mention at the end (though I do hope this blossoms later on in sequels).

Instead, he leapt toward the sword, snatched it from the sky as if by magic, and used its downward momentum to counterattack. The resounding crack on the wooden handle of his opponent’s longaxe brought the crowd to their feet. The broken weapon fell to the arena floor, and the logger threw his hands up in defeat.

The other thing that stuck out to me was the description of the action. I loved it. The Clash (an event where the best centurios/warriors competed in certain disciplines) was certainly one of my favorite events in the book. I pretty much read it and cheered–real loudly–when my favored centurios won out.

So yes. I enjoyed this book. Lots. And I would totally read the next one. THERE BETTER BE A NEXT ONE.


4 out of 5 cookies!

Bowls of Fried Dough

And how they feasted! Around every corner they found irresistible temptations…bowls made of fried dough, filled with sugared berries and topped with sweet cream; and everything washed down with all the sweetwater and lemonsong they could hold.

There’s a reason why The Clash was one of my favorite bits of the book. There was so much happening in those chapters, one of them being what foods were set upon the characters! The particular passage I quoted stuck out because I thought to myself: “Fried dough with berries and cream…like cream-filled raspberry doughnuts?!”

IMG_20150503_111414

Oh yes. Like cream-filled raspberry doughnuts.

I went about and found this bunuelos recipe to help me out. It was actually a pretty simple process, and the only thing that made me hesitant about making the concoction was that I would have to fry the dough. I have no issue with fried dough, but I just try not to fry things in general, since I’m not too good about getting that done.

The recipe did say one can flatten the dough to form a “bowl” as described in the book, but I made a few changes to how I shaped my dough. Make note: it is much better to shape them into ribbons or flatten them into bowls than to drop them in as balls, because the dough fries quickly on the outside (some of my dough balls were undercooked inside, so I had to re-fry them, even when the outside was already super-golden).

To honor the description of the food in The Second Guard, I topped some of my finished bunuelos with whipped cream and raspberries, and had some lemonsong (which I interpreted to be “lemon-water”) to wash it down!

Verdict: Quick, not-so-sweet, and awesome breakfast doughnuts overall!

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