by Julianne Lee
Review by Mel Jacob
Ace Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 0441014399
Date: 29 August, 2006 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Set upon by knights intent on killing them, they flee to the forest to escape. Alex uses his pistol to dispatch the knight in closest pursuit. Another band arrives and chases off the remaining knights. The Earl of Carrick, Robert Bruce, soon to be the new Scottish king, demands to know whom they represent. Alex has killed an English knight Bruce and his men hunted. Bruce gives him the choice of accepting knighthood for his deed and pledging allegiance to him or being killed. So begins Julianne Lee's new historical fantasy Knight Tenebrae providing a gritty view into life in 14th century Scotland.
Alex, from a fourth-generation military family, takes quickly to the life of a knight and learns to use a sword and claymore, but avoids the lance. However, he discovers a means to disarm and kill lance-wielding knights. His knowledge of military battles and strategy enables him to prosper.
Lindsay must conceal her sex or find a protector. She chooses to act as Alex's squire and an aspiring knight. Hiding her gender creates complications for them both. While he thrives, Lindsay becomes more and more disgusted with the Scots and the rude life available. Every day presents new challenges to avoid the discovery of her nature. Alex's protectiveness and insistence she share his tent also cause problems. The Scots frown on sodomites and will burn them both alive if they suspect Alex of having sex with his squire.
A confrontation with the wizard who cast the spell that snared and destroyed their plane ends with them shoved seven years into the future and forced to explain their absence and failure to fulfill their pledge to Robert. Alex is almost beaten to death by one of Robert's knights, but saved by another MacNeil, Hector, current laird of Barra. He claims Alex as a kinsman and his by right of blood to punish, if punishment is warranted.
Meanwhile the disgruntled wizard whom only Alex can see, complicates matters. He hates Alex because the plane disrupted his spell and destroyed what he most treasured. He drops hints to Alex's various enemies. Fairies add other obstacles. An encounter with Danu, goddess of the Tuatha dé Danann, offers Alex a solution, but one he doesn't want.
Lee aka J. Ardian Lee has four time-travel historical fantasies published and a few short stories. The earlier titles, fantasies set in 18th century Scotland, have received glowing reviews. Except for telling the entire story through the hero's point of view, this novel could as easily have appeared as a historical romance, especially since so much of the novel focuses on the relationship between Alex and Lindsay.
The current novel will please some and disappoint others. The extensive historical research shows in the action and setting. Some inconsistencies and loose narrative threads raise unresolved questions. The exciting climax will satisfy most readers. However, the novel ends abruptly. Lee's new series continues in February of 2007 with Knight's Blood.