Chanced upon this book at Borders and thinking it was another tale of Arthur’s knights of the Round Table, from the description on the back cover, bought it.
Well, it is. Except that The Knight of Darkness is set in an alternate universe after the fall of Camelot and Arthur’s death, and it is the second book in Kinley McGregor’s (who also writes as Sherrilyn Kenyon) The Lord of Avalon series.
The main character, Varian du Fey, the son of Lancelot and an Adoni witch, and an outcast at Arthur’s court, is one of the few secret Grail Knights who have survived the death of the King to guard the powerful sacred objects of Camelot which have been scattered to protect them from evil.
Camelot fell into the evil hand of Morgey le Fey, and it became the lair of the unholy demons, mandrakes and darklings who serve a new Pendragon who is determined to reunited the broken Round Table and claim the sacred objects for his own nefarious purposes.
For more on this new universe, look up the LOA site … um, just ignore the amateurish animation and you’ll do fine. I’m going to dive right into this story.
Varian has always been portrayed as a diabolical character, and seen as a renegade knight who would stop at nothing to achieve his own evil purposes. However, behind this carefully calculated façade of this assassin for the Penmerlin is a compassionate heart and lonely soul who yearns to be touched by love.
Enter Merewyn, a once-proud princess who foolishly invoked the help of an Adoni (who happens to be Varian’s biological mom) and was enslaved in the form of a deformed hag. In a chance encounter, Varian’s compassion towards her became a weapon for his evil mother and Morgen le Fey, who for some strange reasons are eager for him to join their Circle of the Damned. He’s given an ultimatum: take the evil side of the conflict or see the innocent Merewyn, who was restored to her original beauty to tempt Varian, die.
That leaves him with no choice but to save both their lives by joining forces against the two powerful sorceresses. Along the way, two people who know nothing of trust learned to rely on each other and see that true beauty lies in the soul. Most importantly, they learn to believe in the power of love.
What I like about this tale is that even though there’s darkness in it, the author has imbued this romantic fantasy with a sense of hope. She seems to enjoy writing about the duality of human nature, but ultimately good will always triumph over evil and that is what I always love. The language and descriptions is a bit explicit, but I sense she’s not the kind of author given to bouts of poetry and purple prose for the sake of embroidering an already fascinating plot angle and intriguing world of sorcery, post-Arthurian adventure and ever present battle between good and evil that is the hallmark of any good Fantasy work.
One of the LOA that I’m compelled to find out more about is Faran, who appeared mysteriously to aid Varian in his fight against Morgen’s evil army. I hope this story will be released soon for I find myself strangely anticipating his adventure. The Knight of Darkness is enjoyable on its own even without reading the Sword of Darkness first, although I must confess to a curiosity about Kerrigan’s story. Well, let’s see if I can get hold of that book in a UBS.