01/03/2002. Contributed by Laura Kayne
pub: Orbit. 374 page paperback. Price: £6.99 (UK). ISBN: 1-84149-090-3.
Soldier is a stranger in a strange land. After awakening from what he believes was a great battle he has no knowledge of himself, where he came from or the land in which he now finds himself.
He only knows that he is different, marked an outsider by his unique blue eyes. The only clue to his past identity is that he has fighting skills and is dressed as a warrior. So he becomes known as ‘Soldier’.
In the city of Zamerkand, he attempts to begin a new life. The people of the city distrust strangers and he is pitted against foes, both man-made and natural, at every turn. Driven by a need to find the answers about himself, he struggles for survival and for power in a bizarre and power-hungry world, ruled by a half-mad queen and corrupt government officials.
Slowly, he begins to become familiar with his new home, rising from mistrusted outlander to a member of the Red Pavilion mercenary army to a lieutenant within that same army. When he falls in love with the Queen's sister, also cursed with madness, he finally feels that his luck has changed.
She saves his life but sadly this just creates more problems. Forever trying to prove himself, Soldier then begins a quest to find the find a cure for the Princess's madness, and to find the truth about his past.
'Knight's Dawn' is the first in Hunter's 'The Red Pavilions' series. An introduction to the city of Zamerkand and to Soldier, told from his point of view. Full of sorcery and magic, it paints a vivid picture of a complex land and people. While the action appears a little slow at times, the description is rich and we learn about the city and it's inhabitants and rules as Soldier does.
This is sometimes frustrating - there is much he does not know but does help to build the tension. Soon I began to feel sympathy for Soldier and he serves to capture the imagination enough for the reader to want to learn the truth about his past life. Unfortunately, very little is learnt, and I can only assume that more is to be found in the next in the series.
The only problem I personally found with 'Knights Dawn' was its somewhat slow pace. However, if a gentler pace, at least in places, does not bother you, then you will find this a worthwhile and absorbing read.
Check out website: www.orbitbooks.co.uk
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA