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Monday, February 18, 2008

Knights of Dark Renown

**** Knights of Dark Renown by David Gemmell. Fantasy.

Once upon a time, the world was protected by the Knights of the Gabala, but they entered a portal to another dimension in response to a threat, and never returned... all except Manannan, who's lived with the shame of his cowardice ever since--he couldn't make himself enter the portal.

But now that threat has materialized, in the form of red knights, even stronger and more powerful than the Knights of the Gabala (they're vampires, basically), and only the Knights of the Gabala can save the country. So Manannan must face his fear, go into the portal, and bring them back.

There's a big twist, after which other things happen, but I can't say what else happens without giving away the twist, so I'll stop the summation here.

I'd bought Knights of Dark Renown used (same circumstances as Dust to Dust) after seeing recommendations for David Gemmell... somewhere. I wish I could remember where. If it was you, thanks!

It's a readable, exciting, interesting story, with engaging characters, and I enjoyed it quite a lot. There isn't anything negative about it I can really put my finger on to explain why it didn't grab me, except to say that it's not all that complex. Kind of what I call a popcorn read. It's tasty, I like it, but it's not a full meal, and it's not necessarily all that memorable. Maybe best for younger readers, those who are just getting into fantasy, or anyone who doesn't want a very detailed read.

Ah... I lied. I knew if I kept typing long enough, it would hit me what kept me from loving this book. It's the lack of worldbuilding. The characters are interesting and three-dimensional enough, but it's almost like they're acting in front of a greenscreen. I don't mean just the physical features of the world, though that's important, but how the magic works, where it comes from, and a little of the history of things.

All of which is not to say this is a bad book--if I thought it were bad, I wouldn't have given it 4 stars. It is good--I'm just trying to figure out why I didn't think it was great.

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