All is not well in Kensrik, the largest kingdom of the known world. With the passing of one royal, and then the other, fate conspires on two young people unexpectedly bound for greatness in affairs far greater than they might ever have anticipated. Chandra, born of the now-late King Jonnecht but not of his queen, inherits the throne in an unusual succession devoid of the usual sons; and Derek, a man carrying a dead birthright of nobility stricken from honorable mention in the empire, fighting his own personal battle with furtive, yet increasing doubts. These two aimless wanderers, each of their own arenas, come to a head that threatens to change the kingdom forever, perhaps even against their ancestral wills. This is The Gift-Knight’s Quest by Dylan Madeley.
The book has had a long time to come together, recently being released following a successful Kickstarter campaign that saw the book put into its current state and generate a first run of print copies. The result is finally here, and it’s all good news for anyone waiting for a final verdict.
Even from a glance, it’s clear that the book has been well-funded in its final production, which, throughout, seems to have been used properly. The book proudly displays a beautiful and very becoming painted cover by artist Rona Dijkhuis – sadly the only piece in the book aside from a simple world map, though no points lost for it – capturing tone of the story told in the particularly well-prepared script. Characters feel multi-dimensional, even if they have fairly brief features or relatively minor impacts on the story.
The writing style is prosaic, even poetic in its attention to telling and evocative detail, spinning tales out of even a single sentence and filling the book beyond its almost compact 280-or-so pages. The only real flaw is that the book ends where it does. While the main thread does end quite succinctly, it’s clear the world has many, many stories left to tell, and I couldn’t help feeling like I wanted more. Even the final epilogue left me feeling as if I’d missed something important, making me want to read the book over again to pull all I could from it. Each character and event is so quietly storied.
Gift-Knight is a truly artful fantasy story that tells a straightforward tale beautifully with many echelons. The book, as well as a few following works still in the pipeline, had been developed for a substantial length of time before this first publication, and it shows, in all positive ways: the book is very, very satisfyingly paced with a premise that, which somewhat commonplace in medieval fantasy, is distinctive in its execution. Legacy, identity, love, loss, and choice mix together within a brilliant, developed, and perfectly curbed final product that will have any regular Fantasy buff satisfied, but itching for more. I hope to see the teased sequels on shelves soon, hopefully buffed up to the same immaculate standard set as this first title.