Pointed and driven… Magnificent.
Valiente introduces an action-packed, richly entertaining adventure full of reluctant heroes, sinister villains, and intimidating dragons in this opening installment in The Knights of Nine series. Coming from a wealthy family, 16-year-old Oliver Quartermain has no care in the world. Accompanied by his friends Roc and Yokel, he spends his time touring the land to compete in sword fighting tournaments. Preparing to return to his hometown after his last tournament, Oilver suddenly finds himself becoming the bearer of an ancient prophecy and is assigned with the gruesome task of finding the long-lost magic and protect it. Valiente is skilled at characterization: he adeptly puts his characters through significant emotional and physical pains. There are nobles: Oliver, Ridhan who have it all, and then there are characters from unprivileged background such as Po who are forced to struggle against class disparity as well as the system stacked against them. However, despite their background all the characters, major or small have their own individual struggles, trauma, and personal tragedies. Oliver, with his sense of fairness and empathy makes for a memorable protagonist. Iris, Po, Roc, Yokel are equally convincing. Oliver’s underlying chemistry with Iris seems genuine and his bond with Kiara provides romantic conflict in the story. Valiente relies on some of the popular elements of epic fantasy—unwilling heroes, enigmatic vigilantes working behind the scene to bring out revolution, a clear line that separates good from evil, significant personal tragedies, exceptionally high stakes leaving readers to decide whether to fear that the dark forces will crush the protagonists or hope that the heroes will eventually overcome the difficulties—but the way he infuses all these elements into the narrative structure is done with great skill. Weaving various plot threads, he brings mini storylines together, tying them neatly into a single plot. Through his characters’ backstories, he skillfully imbues the plot with themes of class discrimination, grief, trauma, family and friendship bonds, and identity issues. The story is dense with details and backstory, but moves at a lightening pace. Without losing momentum, Valiente skillfully crafts the sequence of events leading up to the satisfying cliffhanger. With its high narrative tension and an array of memorable characters, conflicting motives, and familiar fantasy arcs, the novel offers a promising start to a distinctive fantasy series. This fantastic tale should easily find a home with fans of epic fantasy.
The Lightning Knight
(The Knights of Nine Book 1)
By Sean P Valiente
Pub date December 23, 2020
Price $19.99 (USD) Paperback, $29.99 Hardcover, $7.83 Kindle edition