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Knight of Darkness by Kinley MacGregor

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Knight of Darkness
Lords of Avalon #2

Kinley MacGregor
Medieval/Fantasy/Paranormal/Time Travel
Published in 2006

H/h - Varian Du Fey/Princess Merewyn
Setting: England, sometimes after King Arthur's death to the present century.

Read in June, 2011.
My rating:

                                                                    [spoiler alert]

This book is interesting but I'm still not feeling it. There are plenty of funny scenes I really enjoyed. But the fact that Varian's way of talking and all sorts of 21st century references (including the movie 'Monty Python') kinda killing the fun for me.

Varian doesn't belong to any world, neither in Camelot nor in Avalon. His mother is an Adoni, Narishka, who's Morgen's right hand and his father was Lancelot himself. He wasn't born in love and affection so knows nothing of it. From an early age, after being abandoned by his selfish mother and equally careless father, Varian was greatly influenced by king Arthur and has since decided to take the way of the good. But, it hasn't really paid off. He lives in Avalon, but to everyone's scorn and contempt. Merlin likes him but only because he does the jobs other knights won't think of doing, which mean all kinds of dirty jobs. But, Varian is not broody, at least not in the obvious way and he's long since taken it all in stride. So, when Merlin comes to him telling him that there's a betrayer amongst them, Varian knew he's going to have to 'screw' himself again. Since he's the one who can visit both the worlds easily, it's him that Merlin wants. Very reluctantly, Varian agrees to find out who's given away the information on Grail Knights which led Morgen and her MODs kill one of them. It's a serious issue and can't be avoided.

Merewyn was a spoil princess of some country but to escape a marriage she didn't want, she bargained her beauty for freedom with an Adoni. These creatures are renowned for their beauty as well as their deceitful ways and selfishness (also lust, since they're part Incubus). Me? All goggle-eyed! So, Merewyn was made a hag and a servant, lived for centuries even though she used to be a human. Merewyn wants out. And, Narishka has a plan for her.

So, Varian goes to Glastonbury, a place that's situated between Avalon and Camelot. The inhabitants here are trapped for centuries because of the veil that separated the two worlds and taken these out of the human realm. They can't go to Avalon, yet can't venture into Camelot. It's a pityful existence no doubt as their families have perished a long time ago. They're a surly and cruel lot, as circumstances made them. Varian tries to get some information out of it and meets his mother. She tries to talk him into joining Morgen's side. Varian scoffs her offer off and returns with the body of the dead Grail Knight. While talking to his mother, he rescues the hag, her mother's servant, from being abused by men because Varian believes in standing up for people who can't lookout for themselves.

After handing over the body, Varian decides to venture to Camelot for more information; mostly, to meet the leader of the MODs. It's a disgusting job (and believe me, pretty yukky, the way MODs are). As Varian goes there, finds his mother again, cuddling with that creature. Narishka sweet talked him into believing she wants to talk to him but instead imprisons him to make him join Morgen's side, by any means which includes severe torture. She also put on a band in his wrist to stop his magic. Oh mommy, you're great! And toture him she does as Varian doesn't give in. After failing to sway him, Narishka sets her plan of giving back Merewyn's beauty and orders her to seduce him to bring him onto their side. In return, Merewyn'll get her freedom from servitude.

Although she didn't like it, Merewyn was even willing to do that but when she sees Varian in that cell, all bruised and battered and bloodied, her resolve falters. She remembers him from his kindness but as she takes care of him, she knows she most probably can't betray him. And, Varian is lost in her gentle touch and craves for it when she's not here, looks forward for her visits. And, they exchange words on things, in one such incidents Varian let Merewyn know that he knows she's that hag he saved, also why she's doing it. Then, Merewyn knowing Narishka won't possibly let her go, decides to help Varian and in return, asks for his help to protect her.

Then comes Blaise the mandrake, whom we already met in Sword of Darkness. He was my most favorite secondary character there, here he keeps his record. Blaise is here, spying for Merlin and knows Merewyn for centuries. As he agrees, Varian tells him to take him to the Valley of No Return. In this valley, Morgen abandons her lovers (oh, that b*tch!) after they fail to please her. Me? Disgusted even more! Varian thinks he'll find some way to help themselves out. But, it proves to be harder than he thought it'd be and after a long battle with gargoyles and dragons (proven kinda impossible since Varian can't fully used his magic for that band) and more help from Blaise, they're finally in the Valley. Blaise also took a huge risk and knows he can't go back to Camelot since it's now known he's helping them.

Their journey was really fun to read. Here they meet all sorts of weird things, trees that spew fire and aptly termed as fyrebaums *wink wink* and sylphs made of fire. They also met a triplet brothers, one of whom tried to kidnap Merewyn for ahem...  you know what. 300 yrs of celibacy does that to men! They're, of course, Morgen's former lovers (she's known to have twins and triplets as lovers, at the same time! *gag*). But, after one incident that was followed by a bit too much of truth and one of the brothers becoming a ferret (don't look at me, it's all in the book!), they're abandoned here and been like that ever since. Varian also learns that Emrys Penmerlin is alive and lives here, too. Don't even get me starting on the imbecilic things he and a Sylph named Nimue do to get back at each-other. Even though they didn't really trust the triplet, Varian and Blaise decide to follow them to get to Emrys in hopes that he'll help them out.

Since I haven't seen 'Monty Python', all the references were wasted on me. I think, too much of the movie was inserted here, as Merewyn even sings songs with Blaise from it (hope I'm right and not mixing it all up!). On the bright side, I've learned what 'Montezuma's revenge' is and not from personal experience! Ahemm!!! Moving on, what I most enjoyed in this journey was when Merewyn falls into a 'pit of despair'. Hooboy! I did love what her somewhat ermm, loosened tongue says to the men. IT WAS HILARIOUSSSSS! One should only read this book for this scene. :p

Ok, I seriously loved this book but sad that I have to wait til 2013 for the next one. No author should be so cruel and do that! I heartily sympathize with the ones who've been waiting since 2006. If the books in a series is so far off in between, it takes away loads of fun. Same thing happened in Brotherhood/MacAllister ones, too many things remained unresolved, which certainly left me hanging and with a bad feeling. Anyway, though it wasn't as intense as Sword of Darkness but it certainly was funny and sweet (while I did my best to ignore "Lost reruns" in Avalon!). For that I'm giving it a 4.5 stars.

The book, as I've mentioned before, takes place mostly through their journey. They encounter more weird things on the way, one was a goylestone, from which gargoyles are born. These are like baby gargoyles, yes I agree with you Merewyn. They were attacked by some of those but Blaise shooed them away. These are scared of dragons since ... well, it's in the book. :p Then, one of them (and I loved this scene) comes back and takes Merewyn as it's mom. Seriously, it was cute (so was it's naming process). :p And, the way the triplets tease Varian and Merewyn about it was hilarious. Then again, this book has so many hilarious moments such as this, mostly their teasing/bantering and lord, I loved Blaise. I pray and hope that KM will give him a book, though I don't know, the way she's going, I'd be around to read that. :/

On the way, Narishka tried to talk to (through thoughts) Varian and threaten him. Varian, as usual, scoffs her off. Blaise tells Merewyn of Varian's past, how he was conceived (it was some story!) and how cruel his parents, stepmother and half-brother had been to him. I felt so much for the man! Merewyn does too. Then, through an incident, she finds out Varian is a grail knight. She already knew that Blaise is one, too but she's scared that Varian might kill her if he knows she knows (because of the ruthless Adoni blood in him). But, that never happens, in contrast, Varian is always taking care of her. I didn't like the way first love scene happened. Narishka started playing with their minds and Merewyn thought she's becoming ugly again. Becoming scared, she pleads Varian to make love to her since she knew no one will look at her once she's ugly. Amazingly, being with the Adoni taught her well of all things in bed skills. She saw many stuffs in Camelot since this race doesn't particularly mind showing off! Only Merewyn was short of experience because of the way she looked.

Afterwards, it was sad that she started looking like a hag and the pity she saw in everyone's eyes. But, Varian tells her he'd care for her no matter what. At first, of course Merewyn doesn't believe him but later when she does, she returns to her original state and they all understood what Narishka was trying to do. Then, they reach the valley proper and sees the beautiful lands that Emrys and Nimue keep hidden from Morgen and the other evil. Turns out, Nimue is related to Varian, being his paternal grandmother's sister and all that. Then Emrys comes out to meet them and they learn that when they aren't fighting, Nimue and Emrys make out like bunnies! *coughcough* And, that scene was hilarious (again), Blaise being Emrys's adoptive son and all. :p

But, Emrys and Nimue tells Varian they're stuck here since they'd never risk Morgen knowing about it. And, kinda forcefully, they transport Varian, Merewyn and Blaise into a cottage. A week goes by, Beau the gargoyle takes its form and Varian falls seriously ill. It happens because his power was locked inside him for too long. Nimue and Emrys do nothing to help them out as Varian slips into a coma. A desperate Merewyn, to save him, makes another bargain, this time with Dame Fortune. Merewyn helps to break the band that held Varian's power and he gets well. But Emrys comes to them to tell them Morgen knows about this place now and she's heading this way. Varian sends Blaise, Merewyn and Beau to Avalon.

Afterwards, Varian meets Faran, the archer from Sword of Darkness. They both fight, with the triplets joining them. One of them attacks Varian to get back into Morgen's good graces (moron of the first order!), while another saves him. Varian regains his consciousness in Avalon and decides to go to Camelot to face his mother and Morgen. Merewyn isn't happy about it. BTW: because of her bargain, she'd lost her ability to speak. Merewyn tries distracting Varian by making love to him and then, when that didn't deter him, she hits him in the head and asks Narishka to take her. Unfortunately, she drags Varian into this whether she liked it or not. Morgen and Narishka inform Merewyn she's pregnant. Boy, I wanted to kill both of these b*tch every time they called Merewyn a 'whore', while these two have been the biggest whores of them all from the beginning of time! Morgen did the same to Seren, too.

But, I digress. Narishka imprisons Merewyn. When Varian regains consciousness again, he learns of it all. But, knowing that Merewyn is pregnant, he gets all worked up. Here, Dame Fortune steps in. Varian tells him he's going to rescue her anyway, doesn't matter what happens to him. And,  going back to Camelot, that's what he does. Dame Fortune, knowing he cares about Merewyn, goes there to help him out. Then, as they face his mother, Varian takes the blast from his mother when she was trying to get Merewyn ugly again. With it, Varian turns into an ugly, old man. And this scene was really beautiful, how Merewyn begs Dame Fortune, who is very handsome himself, to let her go of the bargain. Varian's all that matters to her. I loved it. I also loved the epilogue, where she meets Seren and the betrayer was found. And, I was left with more empty feelings as I really don't feel like waiting for 2 more yrs for the next book.


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