The Gift Knight’s Quest
by Dylan Madeley
(Pub:Troubador Publishing, 2015)
Dylan Madeley’s epic fantasy novel, The Gift Knight’s Quest, focuses around two primary protagonists: Derek and Chandra. Derek is a young man serving in the military of his small country and whose family are descended from former nobles. His father is bitter and focused only on what the family has lost and believes that Derek should seek retribution for their losses. Chandra, is the illegitimate daughter of the King of Kensrik. She has been raised within the palace, yet is completely overlooked by most of the people around her, including her father. However, through a quirk of fate she winds up monarch of this kingdom. Both characters have to contend with the complex political scheming going on around them, which aims to destabilise the kingdom and end Chandra’s reign.
The world building of this novel is detailed and one of its strongest assets. Madeley has taken the time to include numerous intricate details regarding daily life, politics, legends and rituals – all of which serve to create a believable world. For the most part I found the novel to be primarily focused around the political machinations of the characters secretly opposing Chandra, some of whom are members of her own government, rather than an action packed adventure story. However, the latter third of the novel does introduce some fine action sequences and the pace picks up.
Unfortunately, I found pacing up until this point a little slow. Part of the problem was that the author introduced a second time stream to the story. One timeline acts within the time of Chandra and Derek, while another timeline follows the fate of Derek’s ancestor, Duke Lenn. When this section began I found myself confused as to whether this really was taking place in the past and I had to reread the scene introduction to clarify this. I can see the point of following Derek and Lenn’s journey, since part of the way their route traverses the same country and they are both subject to political scheming beyond their ken and control and what happens to Lenn helps define the future that Derek and Chandra are grappling with.
However, in a couple of scenes with Chandra the pertinent history of Duke Lenn was revealed. I found in light of this that this past history arc was superfluous. As such it served to slow the pace of the current timeline and to always “take me out of the story” and distance me from the arcs revolving around Chandra and Derek. Thus, I never fully empathised with either of the main characters or became deeply engaged with the story. Judging from other reviews, though, this was not the case for all readers.