Book Review: The Knight

The Knight by Pierre Pevel, High Kingdom #1

The High Kingdom is facing its darkest hour. Its King has been weakened by illness and many are discontent with the Queen’s regency. As rebellion rumbles throughout the land, new threats are massing forces at the realm’s borders.

Desperate, the King decides to free Lorn, who has spent the past 3 years locked away on trumped-up charges in the citadel of Dalroth. Acting on the advice of a mysterious emissary of the Dragon, he dubs Lorn ‘Knight of the Onyx Throne’, making him the upholder of royal authority.

Lorn accepts the King’s mission but also hunts those responsible for his imprisonment. Reinstating the Onyx Guard, a once-powerful elite force, he becomes a new figure of hope for his people. But some take a dim view of his growing popularity and influence, and they are busy plotting his downfall.

If he foils his enemies, will he assume the role of champion that the Dragon’s Council of Emissaries have been seeking, the one capable of facing the Black Dragon? He must first confront an evil that gnaws at him ever since he was exposed to the Dark at Dalroth, which now threatens to overwhelm him.

I received this book for reviewing a few months ago but got lost in the pile, when I was sorting my books it suddenly popped up and scanning the first page I couldn't stop reading. The Knight is a perfect example of how of just how Epic Fantasy has to be. This is my first book by Pierre Pevel, he has written one series before High Kingdom, The Cardinals Blades and this kind of has become a must read for me as well, with what Pierre Pevel shows in The Knight. This book and the High Kingdom series have been acquired by Gollancz, since Pierre Pevel writes in French these books take more time to publish since they have to be translated into English. But trust me well worth the wait. 

The Knight begins with a prologue taking place a few years before the actual timeline of the story and shows Lorn Askarian doing his thing, later when the story skips a few years you find out that Lorn has been imprisoned in the most terrible place, the prison of Dalroth where few people survive and even fewer leave and even fewer leave sane. There is a Dark presence in this place that corrupts the souls of people. Lorn was imprisoned because of his treachery towards the King and High Kingdom. But now with new threats appearing at the boarders of the High Kingdom and within the King's own people there is only one person suited to cause a change, Lorn Askarian, he is absolved from his chargers by the King himself, who first imprisoned him. Lorn is also granted the most prestigious title of the High Kingdom that of Knight of the Onyx Throne, which gives him a lot of free space to act everything he does is in the name of the King, but he doesn't have to report to anyone. He isn't the left or right hand of the King, no he is it, he is the King. Now that Lorn is given this new title the story only starts, Lorn calls back into action the Onyx Guard, using this force to quell any threats. But dont think that everything is saved with calling back into action the Onyx Guard, this is just the beginning as Pierre Pevel also involves some very cleverly constructed political games and intrigue because the wife of the King, the Queen has plans of her own. Lorn is in for quite a lot and if all these things weren't enough, Lorn has demons to battle of his own, the Dark that has inflicted him and also one aspect that marks him as a most interesting character, he is out for revenge and what he has done so far shows that he is a dangerous character to mess with. 

The story of The Knight is an amazing piece of work. I read the English translation and not the original French so I can't say how the translation is but judging solely on the English version, Pierre Pevel's writing is solid and will get you excited to read and continue reading until the book is finished. The writing style used is something of a lyrical prose. Though the storyline is quite heavy, Pierre Pevel brings over his story in a very clear and understanding manner, not making the story hard to digest but easy to get into and get lost in. This is something of a gift that only few authors have. Here also comes into play on who Pierre Pevel uses the lay out of the book. You could clearly see that The Knight is the first book in a series, Pierre Pevel takes enough time to build up the world and the characters within. But not giving you one infodump after the other, no he triggers you to think about it. For example he mentions that with being granted the title of Knight of the Onyx Guard comes great responsibility, but it took quite a long time until you found out what it exactly meant. It's these kind of triggers that kept me hooked to the pages.

As mentioned the focus in The Knight is on the protagonist Lorn Askarian. The prologue left me with a lot of questions of interest about Lorn and the story in general and then seeing the timeline skip and introducing a prisoner with no name. The way that Pierre Pevel showed the imprisoned Lorn and how he was changed was done just perfect, Lorn being imprisoned for three years in the depths of Dalroth, couldn't stay unchanged and this is precisely what comes to show. When he is absolved and set to be released from Dalroth, Lorn is skittish and doesn't trust the people who are about to set him free. He acts and tries to escape himself and this moment is still lingering in the back of my mind. Very emotional and very realistic. And this is also the continuation of Lorn's character all throughout the book. He knows what he is doing and for what but the Dark has left his mark and he has to fight this demon, added to this comes the fact that he wasn't fairly treated and his imprisonment in Dalroth was unjust. As I said, he wants revenge and that is and will always be a dish best served cold... 

The world that Pierre Pevel starts to show in The Knight is dynamic and just plain cool. It is an Epic Fantasy inspired world with magic, dragons, wyverns and much more. Normally when these elements feature in a book they are often the focus of the story. In The Knight this is a bit different. Pierre Pevel uses magic and these creatures to dress his story, weaving them in the background cleverly so that they remain just that bit obscure, triggering you again to find out more about them. BUT. He also isn't afraid to put them in the spotlight every now and then, giving a very heated confrontation with them and showing just how deadly these beings can be. These confrontation aren't all aimed at fighting, there is also a high factor of intrigue and betrayals in it. A most interesting world to say the least. 

I can only slap myself for not having read The Knight sooner. It isn't a books that received a lot of attention but which it does deserve. I think a lot of people don't know of this book or heard of Pierre Pevel ( I had the same to be honest *slaps self*), but do trust me that The Knight is a great book. It's like somewhat of an underdog book. The world that Pierre Pevel shows in The Knight is most interesting and added to this comes a very real character and an unexpected story. The Knight ends on something that makes you wish you could pull the French book through google translate. The Heir, sequel to The Knight, has just become one of my anticipated reads for 2015.


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