On the longest night of the year, a dark wizard murders a knight and his wife.
The knight's children survive and swear revenge. Sam and Jamie vow to become knights like their father. Neev, the middle child, vows to become a wizard.
Five years later, things look grim. Sam is useless with the sword. Jamie is denied knighthood because she's a girl. Neev cannot cast a spell without growing donkey ears, a monkey tail, or an elephant trunk. The siblings feel like failures.
That's when the dark wizard strikes again.
Are the siblings powerful enough to defeat him? Or will they too die at his hands?
Arenson starts the story by introducing what might be his best fantasy-creation to date: the grobbler. 'Pagan gods cursing beautiful, vain women, twisting and wilting their left halves?' They were terrifying to imagine, yet spoke to me very strongly. By being half wilted, half beautiful, they formed a metaphor for modern day society, which is obsessed with youth and beauty, yet at times twisted and dark. In all his books, Arenson has always showed a talent for creating yet he topped himself in this book. A multitude of new creatures appear, all of which seem to have their own detailed background. Therefore I was happy to find a character that is slightly reminiscent of those in Arenson's 'Flaming Dove': Romy, a demon.
Romy is a delightful character, perhaps the best in the book. As a fearsome-looking demon she scares everyone who sees her, yet her childish and immature character provokes quite a lot of hilarious situations. Put her together with a brutish but nice Scruff, the warlock who conjured her up to Earth, 15-year old Jamie who loves to wield her sword at everything and the charming Webcob who was expelled by her spiderling-clan for her speaking impediment. Together they form the Misfits, the Bullies for Buck, who are desperately trying to survive after being kicked out of their respective groups. The Thistle siblings, Jamie, Scruff and Neev, are all still haunted by the death of their parents, especially when their murdered seems to be chasing them.
Reading this book I felt delightfully nostalgic. I always loved stories about travelling knights, slaying monsters, simply being heroic. That is what I loved about stories about Knights and 'Eye of the Wizard' brought back those feelings brilliantly. There is a great sense of comradeship in the book that extends to include the reader in such a way I felt sad at the end of the book for having to leave them. There had been a perfect mix between darker and scarier moments and more light and fun moments, all coming together in a rather touching finale.
Although sometimes the moral of the story is a bit too obvious for my taste, Arenson's descriptions are amazing as always. I have to show myself from my nerd-side for a minute and tell you that this story brought me back to my Dungeons & Dragons - days. This is exactly the kind of set-up I would wish for in one of those games and I thanks Arenson for bringing me back to that.
I give this book...
I truly enjoyed this book. It is a truly fun read full of fantasy creatures and events that are sure to give you reading pleasure. It has been a long while since I read a knights tale that truly captured the essence of heroic deeds. The Bullies are an amazing group of characters and there is something for everyone in this book.