Rajian Paladins are something special. They are the closest thing to superheroes that this world knows. In combat, they are unmatched. They are well educated, well mannered, and above all they are advocates for the people. The full title of a Paladin carries a weight to it that puts their motives beyond question, grants them access virtually anywhere in New Raj (and most of the civilized world). The title is a statement and a commitment to a way of life and a believe structure. It is both personal and public. Every title has a clause before the Paladin’s name. In Katrina’s instance that title is “graceful” as her fighting form was peerless during her time in the order. The title also is a permanent change to the Paladin’s name. Even upon their retirement from The Order, the Paladin retains the prefix “O” to their surname. It is a reminder to the world that even without armor, the Paladin is due respect.
So what happens when that role is stripped away? What happens when the title and the prestige are no longer enough to out weigh the personal hardships that come along with them? The answer is Katrina. Once a Paladin of renown, now a bitter drunk in the slums of Seaside, Katrina’s is a story of regret and redemption. She is an angry woman who is destroying herself the only way she knows how: completely. It is only the spark of curiosity and hint of potential that Katrina sees in Julian that once again sets her on a correct life path.
A brief line in Chapter 2 explains how a Paladin in exile would come to know someone like Julian. He managed to get past her initial volley of aggressive bluster and actually listened to what the woman had to say. In a world that a Paladin might see as careless, cruel, and clumsy, Julian was none of the above and that one meeting brought about a growing mutual respect.
When Katrina enters the story, it’s strongly hinted at that she joins Julian in the gang pursuits as a means to acquire some much needed money. That works but if I were to truly put myself in the head of Katrina I think it would only be half the truth. I expect that her motivation to go in on a journey like this is somewhat born of self-destructive desires. A chance for battle and perhaps death would seem all to welcome to a disgraced Paladin.
Katrina becomes the true protector of the group and as the story progresses she is completely unable to hide or run from who she is. She defends Face and Julian’s lives to the breaking point on at least two separate occasions and Dori never relents on opportunities to remind her of who she is.
These things all weigh heavily on Katrina but her past is still too heavy of an anchor weighing her down. As the book progresses, I felt I had to treat Katrina’s various addictions and forms of regret with the gravity they deserved. There was no easy way out of any of those things. She had to be forced to deal with tragedy so deeply cutting that as a person of will and resolve she would recognize the need to break from her own demons.
It’s said that only when you have lost everything are you free to do anything. Katrina has perhaps some of the cruelest cuts to her life in Master of the House, but it is the very nature of those moments that bring out the good in her and make her shine as the hero she was always meant to be.