Good morning, readers! I'm on the TLC book tour for John Marco's The Forever Knight this morning.
Lukien was once reknowned as the Bronze Knight. Armed with his own Akari, he's become all but immortal. But with war behind him and no king to protect, Lukien is in need of a mission. It's suggested that he take on the mantle of knight-errant. He reluctantly agrees to do so and decides his first task will be to help his young friend Cricket recover her memories. Their journey will be a dangerous one and even Lukien's Akari (the spirit that protects him) believes it's a bad idea, but the Bronze Knight is determined to succeed and protect Cricket along the way.
The Forever Knight is technically the fourth title featuring Lukien of The Bronze Knight series, but it is also the start of a new series featuring the character. So while Forever exists within an established world, it serves as a great jumping off point for new readers and one that longtime fans and newbies can enjoy equally. Per Marco's website:
While the book is ostensibly a continuation of the first trilogy, it also takes Lukien in a fresh direction, removing him from the familiar setting of the original books. The story introduces many new characters and bloody adventures, sending Lukien off on a violent, magic-laced mission of vengeance.
Now while there was little confusion on my part in beginning with The Forever Knight, I realized that the review copy strangely comes with much more backstory in the way of the synopsis, details that don't seem to appear in the official cover copy. There's some backstory provided in the book as well, but the nutshell (bear in mind I've not read the first three books as of yet) is that Lukien was raised alongside King Akeela and later became commander of Akeela's Royal Chargers. Lukien also fell in love with the king's wife, Cassandra, who is dead when The Forever Knight begins. Lukien has what's called an Akari, a spirit named Malator who protects him and heals him and seems to dwell in his sword. Malator teases Lukien along the way with ominously evasive information causing Lukien to question just about everything he does. Though Malator has some good reason for doing so as Lukein seems to rarely listen to him and frequently places himself in mortal danger. The knight longs to return to his lost love but she's insisted he must find his own destiny, which is why Lukien now resides in Jador.
Then there's Cricket. Cricket came to Jador with no memory of her past. No one knows why she can't remember but she knows enough to tell them that she came from a kingdom called Akyre and that her name is Cricket.
Which brings us to The Forever Knight. Akyre is ruled by a menacing king who seems hell-bent on conquering all of the Bitter Kingdoms. Lukien and Cricket hear rumors of an army of dead men that surrounds Akyre and soon come to realize that the mission is going to be much more dangerous than they'd originally believed.
There are monsters and madmen, lots of gruesome deaths, and tons of danger along the way. Cricket is a curious character and the story of her past is intriguing in and of itself, but Lukien clearly has a long way to go in terms of becoming who he is meant to be. Malator's comments thus add another interesting element to that part of the story as well.
My only issue with The Forever Knight is that it seemed rather short. I like a good meaty fantasy and would have loved for this one to be at least twice as long as it was. Not a bad thing in my opinion and obviously there are three previous titles to pad out my TBR and satisfy this craving!
The previous Lukien novels are:
The Eyes of God
The Devil's Armor
The Sword of Angels
And according to John Marco's website there are more Lukien stories in the works, too. For more on that and Marco's other works, check out his blog here. You can also follow him on Twitter.
To see the more stops on the tour check out the official TLC tour page here.