After the events of Once a Princess, deceptions abound, with Sasha unable to trust Prince Jehan - no matter how much she might want to. So it's time to strike out on her own, but her troubles aren't the only ones plaguing Khanerenth. Invasions, pirates, broken treaties and possible treason abound, but all Jehan wants is to keep Sasha and his country safe.
All Sasha wants is to find her father.
And all War Commander Randart wants is both of them dead.
But while all of this is going on, the only thing King Canardan is showing real interest in is Sasha's mother - Atanial. As for Atanial, well, she has plans of her own.
It's a complicated summer in Khanerenth, and things can only get worse.
The 'Sasharia en Garde!' story picks up exactly where 'Once a Princess' left off and proceeds apace. In a nice twist on the usual roles of princes and princesses (in true Sherwood Smith style) Sasha is the one traipsing about the countryside, while Jehan dazzles at court. Spies and magic notecases keep the prince apprised of all that's going on, while Sasha bumbles blindly about, feeling very pleased with herself.
It is a little annoying that Smith's good-guys are always so very good - only the bad guys kill and shed blood willingly, and those related to the good are just terribly misguided. But it does create a brilliantly funny maritime battle full of mishaps. Smith also has a habit of arranging things a touch too neatly (as in Crown Duel). But the jostling political factions and the corrupting influence of unchecked ambition are gloriously done.
Again the story is steeped in this world's history and littered with connections to other stories, which are essentially meaningless unless you've read her other books. But I didn't have a problem with that, though the continuous Norsunder references were a little annoying as they were clearly never going to be addressed here.
In all a thoroughly enjoyable political adventure romp, with strong elements of Crown Duel - complete with capable heroine, intelligent hero, swords, ships and romance. Great fun, and another wonderful instalment from Sherwood Smith's fascinating world.