Sunday, April 4, 2021

Review: Knight's Ransom by Jeff Wheeler

by Jeff Wheeler
Release Date: January 26th 2021
2021 47 North
Kindle Edition; 432 Pages
ISBN: 978-1542025294
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

4.5 / 5 Stars

When the Argentine family finally rules, Ransom must make his own way in the world. Opportunities open and shut before him as he journeys along the path to knighthood, blind to a shadowy conspiracy of jealousy and revenge. Securing his place will not be easy, nor will winning the affection of Lady Claire de Murrow, a fiery young heiress from an unpredictably mad kingdom.

Ransom interrupts an abduction plot targeting the Queen of Ceredigion and earns a position in service to her son, the firstborn of the new Argentine dynasty. But conflict and treachery threaten the family, and Ransom must also come to understand and hone his burgeoning powers—abilities that involve more than his mastery with a blade and that make him as much a target as his lord.
My Thoughts
Knight's Ransom is the first book in a planned four book series featuring Ransom as he searches for his path in the world as well as answers questions he has about powers he has developed over the years.  I have been reading and following this author for years, ever since I happened upon a book called The Wretched of Muirwood, and have been hooked ever since.  It's not too often I re-read books, but I think I may actually go back and re-read, and review, that trilogy.   

This book is a bit different from the previous books, but I really enjoyed that aspect as it shows the depth of this author's writing ability as well as his development.  This one seems to take inspiration from the Arthurian Legends which made me happy; Is there anyone as a kid who wasn't inspired by King Arthur and his knights?  

The story is told entirely from Ransom's perspective, with Claire's perspective told through chronicles, a format this author has used in former books.  Ransom grows up to be a happy and well-adjusted boy despite the fact that he was separated from his family at a young age by the king and held ransom to keep his family in line, which is how he earned his nickname.  After being rejected by his father in brutal circumstances, Ransom understood that he would have to make his own way in the world, so he was sent to a relative's castle to learn how to be a knight, something in which he excelled.  He tended to look for the best in people and trusted far too easily, which set him up for betrayal, something we will see a lot of in the book.  One of the things I really liked about Ransom however, was his sense of honour.  Even though he struggled with making the right choices throughout the book, he ever wavered once the choice was made and his loyalty was absolute.  He really seemed like this glowing light while everyone one around him was plotting and being deceptive.  And yes, we know how the story ends in the legends of Arthur, don't we? Which is why I am afraid to find out what happens to Ransom in future books.

I really enjoyed the other characters in the books although I don't think they were quite as developed as Ransom.  I especially felt like the 'romance' between Claire and Ransom felt off simply because there was not enough time to really explore their feelings as they didn't spend a lot of time together for reasons you will understand when you read the book.  Yes, they spent a lot of time together as children, but people change a lot as adults and for the most part, when Ransom was at Kingfountain, Claire was not really around.  I am really glad that the author is not afraid to kill off characters if necessary though, as some of the fighting was brutal.  

The plot itself was twisty and fun.  There were betrayals aplenty, some coming out of nowhere that I didn't even suspect; I love it when an author can catch you by surprise and turn an experience on your head.  The entire Argentine family is plotting against each other and are quite the dysfunctional family, but that is what makes them so interesting.  Devon and his younger brothers all plot against their father, Devon the Elder, all while plotting against each other, fighting for the Hollow Crown, determined to take it on their own terms.  There is also a secondary mystery twisting through all of this plotting and betrayal involving Ransom, but at this point the reader is left hanging and guessing as to what it is.  The author has only given a teasing glimpse into the possibilities in this book.

Knight's Ransom is set in the Kingfountain world and I am so glad to be back in that world.  I enjoyed Ransom as a main character and loved the medieval setting of this world, with the knights, the battles, the betrayals, and the loyalties constantly changing. I did think the character development of some of the secondary characters was a bit weak so I am hoping for a bit more on that end in future books.  There is a mystery intertwined throughout the story involving Ransom that has not yet been resolved which includes a quest (just seeing that word gives me a huge thrill!!), and I can't wait to find out more about Ransom and his abilities.  Although you do not have to be familiar with the Kingfountain world to enjoy this book, I do recommend you read his other books at some point, especially The Kingfountain Series, as it will give you interesting background information about the world. I'm off to dive into book 2, Warrior's Ransom, to be released May 18.


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