Servant of the Lesser Good (The Feyrlands Collection) by Shaun Paul Stevens

A Cursed Symphony and Magic which tells Stories in your Mind

High Mistress Talia is a hell-raising socialite with a murky past. But she has a bright future. Beautiful, rich, and a virtuoso harpist, she’s betrothed to the Count of Brecht. In short, she has it all. Or so it would seem.

Marla Holst is the new lady’s maid, but never has the ‘help’ been so unhelpful. Marla, real name Mist, has only one mission: to stop the high mistress’s marriage. By any means necessary.

But complications abound. Talia’s disturbed daughter, a girl who can see into the future, is cursed with the stigma of a devil-worshipping father. The count’s father, the Duke of Rizak, is a recluse, too afraid of assassins to show his face. And all the nobility want to do is duel.

Meanwhile, the highlight of the season—a recital of the famous ‘Cursed Symphony,’ draws ever closer.

Epic Fantasy for fans of Robin Hobb, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Neil Gaiman, V.E. Schwab.
Please note: This book contains mature themes.

Buy link | Goodreads

My Review

I was sent a digital copy of this novella by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you very much to Shaun Paul Stevens – I absolutely loved this book!

In Servant of the Lesser Good, Shaun Paul Stevens serves up an extraordinarily rich banquet of subterfuge, kidnap, political machinations, a complicated and elaborate assassination plot, a tense and exciting chase, a card-reading, future-telling child, a drug which causes the colour to seep out of the world, a touch of magic, some of the most obnoxious nobles you’re ever likely to meet in a novella of this length and a completely likeable feisty heroine in the shape of Mist, aka Marla Holst, whose cover-role as famous harpist Talia’s handmaiden causes her to hold her tongue and keep her behaviour in check on more than one occasion:

“Tell you what,” Mist offered. “I’ll let you in on a secret too. Then we can both trust each other?” Paloma nodded enthusiastically. “I’m not really a handmaiden,” Mist said. “I’m a trained killer.”

In reality Mist is in the employ of the Network, a shadowy underground organization of spies working towards the goal of keeping the country from falling into civil war:

The Network’s statisticians had plotted the predicted battles like any competent intelligence agency, measuring the toll a civil war would take on the lives of children and innocents if the duchies broke away from a unified Sendal.

I really enjoyed Mist’s character once the story got going. To begin with I didn’t think I was going to connect with any of the characters as they all seemed fairly despicable, but as the motives for their behaviour come to light and the characters are further developed I came to really like Mist.

Who was she kidding? There was no justifying her actions. She was what she was. People are.

She was very self-aware and resigned to the fact that the soulshade drug was having a permanent effect on her health but was a necessary evil for her assignment to be successful.

My favourite scene from the story was the exciting, edge of the seat chase with Mist being pursued all over town by the city guards and her impressive talents of escape:

She sprinted along the rooftop, vaulted another chimney pot, down onto another ridge, one foot at a time, slipping on the dusty tiles. Hands pumping, feet springing catlike, she jumped another gap and rolled. The roof turned to tin, clattering beneath her feet like metal thunder. She jumped for a balcony, running across, dipping under a washing line, nearly poleaxed, and swung over the railing, leaping onto the next building. Beggars, this was acrobatics on instinct, silvery vague patterns of architecture suggested but uncertain. Down below, the soldiers bellowed and swore, struggling to keep up. But keep up they did.

There is magic in this world in the form of Faze energy, which is tapped into by the musical enhancement device called a Serenade, which Talia uses when playing her harp. It puts visions and strange thoughts into the minds of her audience.

“And all the while, the Serenade spun gently around like a tiny planet, its click-clack whir faintly audible between pauses. The device was responsible for the madness. It had to be. But despite the worrying ramification that her mind was not her own, such forgotten feelings were rare meat, lost long ago, and a traitorous part of her welcomed them in.”

My only criticism of this novella was that Faze energy was never really explained in any great detail. I felt that more discussion of it was needed – it was casually swept aside by the author and I would have enjoyed more depth of explanation, as it seemed really intriguing:

“It wasn’t wise to ask how anything to do with Faze energy worked. The force binding the world together was something for scholars and priests to study, not ladies and their handmaidens.”

The book’s ending was really gripping and came as a complete shock with hidden twists and turns making it all the more satisfying as a conclusion. The quality of the writing was excellent throughout this book, and I really enjoyed the dialogue and some of the colloquialisms used. “Face like a smacked arse” is an expression often used by my husband, but I had never seen it in a book before!

It was ambitious to fit so much into a relatively short book but I think the author managed to pull it off really well and I thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend Servant of the Lesser Good. I will eagerly be adding the next book in the Feyrlands CollectionNether Light to my ‘must reads’ list.

About the Author

Shaun Paul Stevens was born in October 1972 in London. He spent his formative years in the shadows of the dreaming spires of Oxford, before moving to Nottingham, where he graduated university with a degree in English and Media.

Navigating a path through music, art and the internet, writing came calling and he found himself ensconced in alternate realities and gritty fantasy worlds. He has written several books to date.

Shaun now lives in Brighton, on the south coast of England, with his patient family and ungrateful cat, generally being a nerd.

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One thought on “Servant of the Lesser Good (The Feyrlands Collection) by Shaun Paul Stevens

  1. Pingback: Indie Spotlight – Shaun Paul Stevens | Sue's Musings

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