Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Review: A Dark Champion by Kinley MacGregor

Those of you out there who have followed me around or visited me regularly know that I LOVE medieval novels, be they mysteries, romances, fantasy or straight fiction. I finally dug Ms. MacGregor's first Brotherhood of the Sword novel out of Mt. TBR & read it this weekend. Initially the goal was simply to get the bad taste of Above All Others out of my mouth. However, I very quickly realized that this novel was very good on its own merits.

So you have Stryder, aka Widowmaker, Earl of Blackmoor returned to the bosom of the English court after long imprisonment in Outremer (modern day Israel). You also have Lady Rowena de Vitry, pacifist, minstrel & enormously wealthy heiress. Queen Eleanor pits Lady Rowena & Lord Stryder against each other in competition even while a nefarious plot unfolds around Lord Stryder, his men & Rowena.

Rowena hides a soft heart behind her prickly & strident pacifist facade. Duty to her family is never far from her mind even as she realizes she has done a disservice to her maids & to Lord Stryder & knights in general. Stryder, for his part, is loyal to his men & his sworn oaths. Letting go of or changing some of his goals to satisfy his own needs seems disloyal & soft.

Imagine that- two adults who manage to see beyond their intitial differences & painful past histories and yet they come together & form a bond. Uh. OK. Pet peeve- weird names. STRYDER IS ARAGORN IN LORD OF THE RINGS, which predated A Dark Champion by several decades. Other than that this is one damn fine piece of fine storytelling. Or perhaps it meely felt damn fine after suffering with that other piece of crap. Whatever. If you like medievals with a little mystery thrown in try this one.

2 comments:

Tara Marie said...

I read this when it was new and though I agree it is a very good story, it still left me somewhat not satisfied.

It took me quite a long time to realize and the reading of several of her books, writing as Kinley MacGregor and Sherilyn Kenyon, I don't like her writing voice and style, which is really a personal preference, and I guess rather nit picky of me.

Bookwormom said...

I haven't read any of the Sherilyn Kenyon titles although I have most of them. We'll see how KM/SK's books trend for me. I don't always have a good track record with authors who write long series.

Madeline Hunter is a good example. I either really like her or really dislike her even within the same series. Hard to say why.

Voice & style can be hard to pin down & quantify. One woman's treasure is another woman's trash I think.