|The Book of Knights|
|Tor Books, 222 pages|
|A review by James Seidman
Yves Meynard is hardly new to writing science fiction and fantasy, but most of his prior work is in French. The Book of Knights is his first fantasy novel written in English. It tells the story of Adelrune, a boy who has spent his entire life with unloving, disciplinarian foster parents in a repressive, rule-obsessed town. When he stumbles onto a book about knights and their adventures, he decides to become a knight himself. Adelrune proceeds through a series of incredible adventures, involving fantastic creatures, magicians, great battles, a giant ship that holds an entire nation, an enchanted forest, and so on.
A couple of chapters into it, I began to wonder if this book was targeted to young adults, because the writing style was unusually straightforward. My speculation along these lines ended as the book started to deal with some very adult-level themes of sex and violence. These arise in only a few places, but enough to make it clear that this is not a book for children.
If I had to pick books with a similar style to The Book of Knights, I would have to choose Gulliver's Travels and The Odyssey. Like those stories, Knights features a sympathetic but imperfect protagonist who proceeds through a series of wild adventures. The adventures are not particularly realistic, are episodic to the point of being almost unrelated, and proceed at a pace that prevents deep character development of anyone but the protagonist.
None of this is to say that the book was not a page-turner. I found the story gripping and the writing style strangely compelling. While it is certainly not like the books I am used to reading, The Book of Knights still earns a respectful place on my library bookshelf.
James Seidman is the director of software development at a hot Internet startup company. Consequently, he needs the excuse of doing book reviews to give himself time to read. He lives with his wife, daughter, two dogs, and twenty-seven fish in Naperville, Illinois.
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