I approached The Forever Knight with some trepidation because it was the fourth book in a series that I hadn’t read (The Bronze Knight), and I haven’t read a series out-of-order in more than ten years. However, it turned out to be pretty good and stands very well on its own.
Lukien is the Bronze Knight, a hero in his world. However, he’s old and barely keeping himself together – he has lost the love of his life and watched his best friend go insane. It’s pretty much the worst time for him to become near immortal, but so life goes. An Akari magician’s spirit named Malator lives within his sword, keeping him alive despite Lukien’s best efforts and insisting that Lukien still has a destiny to fulfill. So he sets out as knight-errant to Akyre, in the ever-warring Bitter Kingdoms, to help his friend Cricket regain her lost memories.
The story is told from the first person perspective, which is very hard to get right, but Lukien has a very believable voice. He’s clearly been through a lot, and his struggle to find purpose in his new life is compelling. It’s interesting to see his thoughts and insecurities from an inside perspective – to everyone else, he is a living legend, but to the reader, he’s just a person who is as capable of making bad decisions as anyone else (and he makes some pretty bad ones in the book, although he can’t really be blamed for them because he didn’t have enough information to make better ones).
The other characters are also quite likeable, especially Cricket – her obvious hero-worship of Lukien mixed with her carefully cultivated shell of quirkiness was pretty poignant. The interactions between characters was sometimes a little too abrupt (both trust and distrust seemed to be acquired relatively easily), but I’m not complaining – it just took a bit of time to get used to, and it did help advance the plot quickly.
The plot itself seemed like a setup for future books; even though it’s the fourth book, Lukien’s life has changed completely, so it reads like the first book of a new series. He’s lost everything that defined him, so he’s discovering himself again, his powers, his boundaries and his purpose. In the beginning, he’s an aimless adventurer, and through his adventures, he makes some questionable decisions and ends up wiser and more focused.
I’m intrigued by Lukien’s world – Malator and the Akari in particular are very mysterious. I really enjoyed Malator’s character, but I’m somewhat suspicious of his motives. I’m not sure if there’s more about the Akari in the previous books of the series, so I might be way off base, but I’m very curious to find out what exactly he wants from Lukien, and why the Akari do what they do (it’s explained that they get to live with the help of humans, but it doesn’t seem like that much of a life).
Overall, a pretty good book, and a great introduction to Marco’s work. I’m looking forward to reading more about Lukien’s past in the first three books (starting with The Eyes of God) as well as seeing where his story goes in future installments.
Note: I received a review copy of The Forever Knight from the author via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest opinion. See more details and a full schedule of the book tour here.
You may also be interested in my interview with John Marco, the author of The Forever Knight.
- “Planesrunner” by Ian McDonald
- “The Golem and the Jinni” by Helene Wecker