Publisher: Matador (February 14, 2013)
Review by: Lindsey
When skimming through recent and soon to be released books, Knight kept demanding and holding my attention. Which is a bit strange; I hardly ever read knights tales, especially not those written from the knight’s point of view. Maybe it has to do something with identification: I’m this short, petite creature….In short: anything but a strong, muscular knight, but since the novel kept demanding my attention, I decided to check it out and read a preview…and from the first paragraph onward, I was hooked. I fell head over heels in love with this novel. I felt like I was Sir Gregory Averill; ready for battle, ready to unsaddle my opponent, to drive my lance into his weak spot…we were simply one. It feels as if his story, his adventures are my own, as if they are part of my own life. We’re one, not in a videogame way that it feels as if I’m looking at myself, no: one as in actually living the events as they are described. For me these experiences are rare and it is an absolute compliment for our dear writer that I feel this way about his character.
The novel starts with Sir Gregory participating in a tournament. This opening ensures excitement while at the same time unifying you with Sir Gregory; it grabs your attention and immediately draws you into the story. Sir Gregory is pitched against his nemeses and more than ready to attain his revenge, though at that point we don’t really know how he came to be his nemeses. In fact, very little is known as to what brought Gregory to this point, besides that he suffered greatly and went through something life-changing. This is not a very original, but nonetheless effective strategy to ignite your readers curiosity and compel them to continue reading. Instead of slowly revealing the events prior to the tournament, while at the same time moving the story forward, Anderson decides to take us back in time. When the tournament is finished, he transports us to a battleground, about three years prior to the tournament and starts telling the story from then on up to the start of the tournament and onward. This introduces us to a completely different Sir Gregory and a totally different battle that needs to be fought. Even though we go back in time, the story luckily does not lose it’s exciting pace due to Anderson providing us with another exciting battle and continuing with a very compelling story.
We learn how Sir Gregory fell in love, experienced true happiness and then later lost everything he held dear. Anderson’s prose is very descriptive and illustrative, which not only aids you in visualising the scene described, but I also find this to be one of the major factors that make it possible for me to merge with Sir Gregory. Anderson provides us with a very comprehensible and clear portrayal of Sir Gregory’s internal musings, which more than adequately conveys his feelings and makes us privy to his inner workings. The fact that he is a very reflective person, does not only add depth to the character, but equally aids in quickly acquiring a feel for the type of person he is. Combined with the use of a vocabulary befitting the time in which the story is situated, Anderson’s prose also facilitates in convincingly conjuring up a world where knights roam about freely, where chivalry is more than just a concept and where curtseying ladies are as elegant as they are resilient.
In this realm of chivalry, it’s to be expected that the various parts of the Knight’s Code of Chivalry are ample displayed and are an important part of the story. It is obvious that Anderson did his homework and substantially researched the time he set his story in, thereby providing us with a precise and realistic account of what being a knight entails and of the world they inhabit. Of course our protagonist possesses all the chivalrous qualities to the highest degree: he is the most honourable, loyal, the strongest and most courageous, the most modest and righteous knight of all in the kingdom. To be brief: he’s a true champion. Sir Gregory therefore may come across as a flat character but his reflective nature and original beliefs, prevent him from being one. Anderson introduces us to a well-executed and likeable version of a knight. Sir Gregory does poses some negative characteristics, like his impulsive tendencies, but often these characteristic serve to ultimately show off his more noble character traits. The character also undergoes some serious development; he starts out as the king’s champion who’s confident, albeit a bit unseasoned and has it all: loyal friends, a true love, a wonderful daughter and an amazing friendship with the Prince and King. Due to a cruel twist of fate, he turns into a guy who lost everything except his daughter and becomes a shadow of himself. Through hardship and struggle, he eventually overcomes his loss and once again becomes a knight that’s worthy of being the king’s champion, he becomes more appreciative and aware of the things around him than ever before and transforms into an inspiration to those who love him . Though as courteous as Sir Gregory and the knights in this novel may be, they are no strangers to using cusswords and profanities. This makes them more vivid and realistic, since no one is ever polite all the time and certain things can only be accurately captured by the use of cusswords. It also adds a layer of camaraderie between the knights.
Besides likeable characters, Knight offers a well-balanced plot: the darker, heavier topics and the lightly, at times even comical parts are sufficiently alternated, resulting in a story of hope and inspiration. It also provides a full depiction of what being a knight entails, instead of only exhibiting the fun and exciting parts by describing for example the loss of loved and trusted fellow knights during the war and by demonstrating the practice, dedication and pain it costs to acquire the necessary skills to properly wield a sword and lance. In all fairness, the story elements aren’t very original, in fact they may even be called ‘cliché’. However, Anderson has executed them brilliantly and provided us with a timeless subject of battling loss and grief, thereby transcending the time the story is set in and delivering a universal and accessible story for all: dealing and overcoming a great loss with the help of the special bonds we sometimes experience with our loved ones. Although the story contains clichés, this is a highly enjoyable and historically accurate work of fiction which wonderfully blends different themes: love, warfare, friendship, loss and chivalry. And let’s be honest; who doesn’t love a good cliché?