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Knights In Dark Leather: Book Two Of The Higher Ground Series by Francene Stanley and Edith Parzefall
Review by Mel Jacob
Double Dragon Publishing Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781771150378
Date: 08 November 2012 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Francene Stanley's Website / Edith Parzefall's Website / Show Official Info /

Knights in Dark Leather continues the quest saga begun in Wind Over Troubled Waters. Cerridwen, the young storyteller, and Trevly, her lover and guardian, follow the clues provided by Cerridwen's mother before she died. As noted in the review of the first volume, the British Isles has been scoured by flood and forced to revert to a primitive society. Cerridwen's mother claimed her daughter has the power to set the world free and place it on a forward path. To do so she must find and wield a powerful ring.

The first volume saw the start of Cerridwen's quest and introduced other major characters, notably the sexy Sasha, Aron the wise trickster, Raymond the diver, and Boris the gentle giant. With the exception of blue eyed Cerridwen, the other characters are a mixture of races. Greedy Sasha is determined to find any treasure and keep it for herself. The tale of the gold ring captivates her.

Sasha uses sex to manipulate and control the men around. After the abuse she suffered in the first volume, she vows to never put herself at the mercy of men. For her, the treasure represents power.

The race between Cerridwen and Sasha is on to find the next set of clues to the treasure, but the motives are very different. As the story progresses, the questers encounter different communities of people giving the story an episodic nature. In general, travel is on foot or by boat and they live off the land and sea.

The heroine is a dreamer and a storyteller. Most of her stories concern the past. That her listeners react so strongly testifies more to their unsophisticated nature than the power of the narrative. The stories, with an occasional exception, aren't that interesting nor are the lessons all that clear.

The ambiguous natures of Sasha and Aron leave plenty of opportunity for book 3, The Golden Submarine that will come out the next year. The other Higher Ground book, Long Doom Calling will follow after that.

As noted before, novels with similar themes include Sherri S. Tepper's The Waters Rising, Marc Chadbourn’s three trilogies starting with the Dark Age, and others such as Max Allan Collins's Waterworld based on the movie. Since the story of Noah, floods have haunted the human psyche. With global climate change, flood stories have grown more popular.

Overall, the language and action is suitable for young adult readers. However, the story takes a major left turn near the end of Knights in Dark Leathers that seriously strains credibility, even for a fantasy.

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