Hello, Lovelies! I want to start by giving a big shout out to Dee , who finished NaNo (no easy feat) and then celebrated by reading erotica - You GO, Girl! I'm snowed in here and you would think I would take advantage by reading and catching up on all my reviews I need to post - You would think wrong. I have spent the last couple of days fighting stir-crazy kids and re-reading my favorite Crusie's . Okay, and I spent most of today in the kitchen making bread (not that yucky bread machine kind, thankyouverymuch - REAL homemade bread) and homemade chicken noodle soup, with homemade noodles and everything. I will be eating well tonight! The food is the only reason I can stand the winter. I'll be heading to the mall tomorrow and upon my return, I shall have tons of books to read, and therefore, review. I still have a few I need to read here at home, but I really want these others, so I'm gonna read them first. And before I get on with the review, don't forget to check out our future home and tell us what we need to add or subtract to make it even better. We aim to please! And now, without further ado...
Knight of Darkness by Kinley MacGregor
Welcome to the darkest side of Camelot...
For centuries, I've been the assassin for the infamous Merlin, even though the woman who birthed me sits at the right hand of our enemy, Morgen leFey. Now both my mother and Morgen have decided that its time I take my place on their side of this conflict.
Normally, telling them no wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that the good guys I protect think that I'm an even worse demon than the ones we fight. Hmmm, maybe their right. I have to say that I do enjoy maiming anyone who gets in my way.
At least until my mother gives me a simple choice: Join Morgen's circle of the Damned or see an innocent woman die. I'm all for saving the innocent, but Merewyn isn't as innocent as she seems. And she's none to fond of the fact that her fate is in my dubious hands. Personally I'm all for taking the easy way out, but leaving her to Morgen is rough, even for me. Now the only way to save both our lives is to face the evilist forces know - my mother and Morgen. And two people who know nothing of trust must learn to rely on each other or die: provided we don't kill each other first.
Okay, about the BCC. As you can see, it is a "letter" written by the hero of the book. When I first started reading this author, it was to read her Dark Hunter books (written under the name Sherrilyn Kenyon), and I kinda dug the whole thing. Now, well, I think I've grown tired. Plus, it isn't all that great. He talks about his mother giving him a choice, actually, his mother never gives that choice, he comes to that conclusion all on his own. I don't know, this BCC just doesn't do it for me. Misleading but not really. They walked a fine line here.
Varian duFey is, just as suggested, an assassin for Merlin. He has never had any qualms about killing those that cross the knights of Avalon and their cause. The son of Lancelot and the Adoni Narishka. Born to a mother that hates him, and dropped at the doorstep of a father and step-mother that feel the same, Varian has never known what it is liked to be loved. To be touched with comfort instead of hate. His magick makes him lethal and he is feared not only in Avalon but in the depths of Camelot, a place where cruelty is the norm.
Merewyn of Mercia was once the most beautiful woman anywhere. Tired of the men that saw only her beauty and angry that her father picked a husband for her that was less than pleasing, Merewyn had an Adoni summoned. In exchange for her beauty, Merewyn would serve the Adoni until the end of one moon-cycle, and then she would be free. But the Adoni Merewyn made her deal with was the evil Narishka, and little did Merewyn know, but there is no light in Camelot, therefore, no moon cycle. Merewyn has been doomed to live life as an ugly hag, with looks so hideous, no one would ever look at her again unless it was in disgust.
When a Grail Knight is murdered on the orders of Morgen, Merlin sends Varian to investigate. The only of her Knights that can walk both Camelot and Avalon, Varian leaves to investigate and this is exactly what his mother and Morgen want. When Varian refuses to join them, Narishka puts a spell bracelet on him that dampens his powers and turns to torture. When nothing else works, Narishka exploits Varian's weakness of pity and transforms Merewyn back to the beauty she once was. In order to keep her looks, Merewyn has three weeks to turn Varian to Morgen's side, or spend the rest of her eternity in hag form being punished for the failure.
But Varian is a smart man. He sees the plan and although he enjoys the kindness Merewyn shows him while he is beaten, he will not jeopardize the grail and all that Arthur had tried to accomplish. "Here, let me guess at how all of this has played out. She told you to come in here and be nice to me...Show me mercy so that I will be bonded to you and grow to like you...But it won't work...Then she's going to give me a choice-join her and Morgen or watch you die by her hand...When that moment comes, I won't save you...Better you should die than those who protect the grail from Morgen. Just as I'm willing to die for my conviction, I'm willing to see you dead for it, too. That is a promise."
It is after this exchange that Merewyn offers to free Varian if her will protect her from the Adoni and take him with her. Enlisting the help of Blaise the mandrake, and one of the only persons to ever be kind to her in Camelot, Merewyn frees Varian, and they flee the castle in search of Avalon. But without his powers, Varian is almost as vulnerable as Merewyn, and they must learn to trust each other and Blaise if they are to survive.
Setting off to the Valley of No Return, the trio hopes to escape Morgen's army and find a way back to Avalon. In the Valley, they meet up with Merrick, Derrick and Erik, triplet, cast off lovers of Morgen. I think these guys were supposed to be comic relief, but I just didn't feel it. In the Valley there are many strange things and I think most of them are supposed to be comic relief. The Pit of Despair, for one, Merewyn falls in and starts droning on and on about her pathetic existence. Not very funny. I think it could have been, I just didn't like the way it was written.
I liked this book, don't get me wrong. MacGregor has an imagination that is rivaled by very few. The world she has created for this series is fabulous, her take on what happened after Arthur fell is nothing short of genius. The problem for me, I think, is that even though this is only the second book in the series, I'm already growing tired of the formula. Bad boy Knight with a heart of stone, meets seemingly innocent beauty, they fall in love and the bad boy is redeemed. I know that books in a series tend to follow the same formula, but I can't help but want different from time to time. I'll continue to follow the series, because I love getting lost in this particular fantasy world. Plus, I do love the HEA with a twist. And of course, there are the fantastic sex scenes MacGregor/Kenyon pens, those don't hurt one bit.
If you are fan of fantasy novels, you won't be disappointed. And if fantasy really isn't your cuppa, but you have always enjoyed the tales of The Round Table, I recommend these books. They are a fun time in a world and time far from ours. And though the ending is predictable, they will have a place in my re-read pile.