The Privilege of the Sword offers a more complex ride (in some respects) to predecessor Swordspoint. Lady Katherine is young and naive, her noble family impoverished purely because her wicked uncle (the Mad Duke Tremontaine) has tied her mother's inheritance up in frivolous lawsuits. When he offers to drop them if Katherine is sent to his household for 6 months - with absolutely no contact with her family - she leaps at the chance to Do The Right Thing For Her Family.
Once on the Hill, Katherine soon realises that reality bears little resemblance to her novel-born ideas of honour, society and justice. Forced to don trousers and learn the sword to further one of the Duke's crazy schemes, she has little control over her destiny and no idea what the Duke wants. Her journey from naive country girl to confident warrior woman is a delight, and if the novel's second-half focus on the evils of a patriarchy is far from original, the execution is gripping and at times heart-breaking.
While it's possible to read as a stand-alone, it will have more emotional impact for those who have read Swordspoint.Full review