Synopsis: Two friends face the Dark Knight’s deadliest scheme, but only one knight has the courage to overcome.
Sir Quinlan leaves his boyhood friend to serve the Prince, fighting a battle darker and more intense than any he’s ever known. The mysterious Sir Baylor recruits him into the ranks of an elite unit of knights known as the Swords of Valor, but when tragedy strikes and everyone blames Quinlan, the Swords of Valor disband, ending a legacy of heroic deeds.
Alone and despairing, Quinlan wanders the kingdom, fleeing his past. His providential encounter with Taras, a mysterious Silent Warrior and former trainer of Valor Knights, offers Quinlan a chance to redeem himself and learn the ways of the secret warriors.
The training is grueling, and just when Quinlan seems to have left his failures behind, he receives an impossible challenge from the Prince—one that will force him to face his past…and the mighty men who blame him for the tragedy that ruined them.
Can Quinlan reunite the Valor Knights in time to save the people from the Dark Knight’s evil plot to rule the Kingdom of Arrethtrae, or will the Valor Knights lose the most important battle of all?
My thoughts: This is the first book by Chuck Black I have read. Considering that, I found the introduction of the "Life Spice" a little corny. ("...the King used the power of of the Life Spice to raise His Son from the dead.") To a non-believer, this may merely seem like a child's immediate solution to an invincible monster's killing of his favorite hero toy. But, if the Life Spice is explained sufficiently in previous books, the reader should not encounter this feeling.
Coming back to my first encounter with Mr. Black's books, I liked it very much! I didn't need to foreknow anything to understand it; I felt as if I were reading the first volume. A medieval society is oft-used in fantasy fiction, but often works well for Christian allegory. Such is the case in this fifth volume. I also found it easy to lose myself in it; I read it in one day! The idea of an elite fighting force such as the Silent Warriors always excites and entices me. However, near the end of the book, about 9 months of training pased without enough detail. It seemed as if the story was under a deadline, and could have been developed more at that point. I was disappointed that Mr. Black hardly described the training procedures, as they are my favorite parts of medieval tales.
The kingdoms of light and darkness, the paythas that brought on apathy, and fighting for the King and His Prince were all great themes! The characters were quite realistic, but after Quinlan's 9 months of training, he was greatly matured, but it felt too sudden for me.
The conclusion to this story was very powerful! It portrays the 2nd coming of Christ, and leaves both Christians and unbelievers with a question: "Have you given your life to the King?" This question and the knightly lessons learned in Arrethtrae apply to the reverse of that land's name, our temporary home.
My rating: 4 stars
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