The distance between the aristocrats and the lowest of the low is drawn fairly neatly, even though we only see the criminal underworld. As always, there are just a tad too many witticisms for my taste, but the story is decent, and, crucially, the author isn’t pretending that his protagonist is actually cool-just-edgy for the most part (think Dresden Files). I liked that Rhaine was an ambiguous character, with both agency and stupidity, and was acknowledged as such. Also that there is no glorification of violence, no matter the amount going on.
This book is part of the 2022 Backlog Incident.
Beware: full spoilers! Also probably incomplete and possibly incomprehensible.
This time, Warden is commissioned by an aged general to find his daughter Rhaine, who ran away and is hiding out in Low Town. His son was Roland, a super heroic type, very inspiring and all, who was betrayed to his death when he tried to get into politics. Meanwhile, the veterans try to recruit Warden to their Roland-worshipping politics/revolution attempts over pension funds etc. Rhaine shows up and Roland doesn’t drag her to her father, whose health is worsening, and then Rhaine ends up dead.
Warden tries to worm his way in with the veterans (he’s one, after all, but doesn’t share their nostalgia), meanwhile setting up a gang so that both the gang and the veterans think the other side will hit soon. Turns out they’re funded by the Black House on the side.
Backstory: Roland and his father were at odds because the general wanted to become High Chancellor, which isn’t easy when your son is threatening to start a veteran rebellion. Warden figures out that Pretories, leader of the veterans, killed Rhaine (and heavily hints he knows Pretories also killed Roland). Oh and it also turns out that Adolphus, the innkeeper of the inn Warden has a stake in, is not the hero he claims to be, and that it was Warden instead (and Adolphus abandoned him).
Finally, it turns out that Pretories had to be coerced a ton to give up Roland and Rhaine, and that the real traitor was their father, the general. (And Warden was only so certain he was right because he was the one who followed orders to lure Roland to his death back in the day, making him second-in-command, one of the ten most powerful people in the country …) Anyway, he nearly sets off a civil war, and talks the General into killing himself.
Side plot: Warden’s kinda-foster-son still meddles in magic, and Warden gets a voodoo-like witch to teach him (because magic is largely regulated and state-owned, and not going to one of the state schools turning magic-users into state weapons is punishable by death).