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review 2016-12-12 12:28
An Unexpected Fantasy of Darkness and Light...
Knights of the Borrowed Dark - Dave Rudden

What I hold is the first of the trilogy of Knights of the Borrowed Dark, a fantasy middle-grade book about knights and the court of order holding the balance of the universe. What I never expect was the fantasy I had longed for for a long time since the good old days of the 1980s I loved so much (like Ron Howard's Willow and 1981's Clash of the Titans). Those were the days where fantasy really meant some thing of good versus evil. Knights of the Borrowed Dark has that fire that burns deep into the hearts of any reader who long for such fantasy books... and to my surprise, it does not even read like a middle-grade book at all.


Plot summary: Denizen Hardwick lived almost his whole life in an orphanage at Crosscaper. When a man named Grey appeared to pick him up as the sun sets, Denizen did not know that he was part of a lineage of Knights of the Borrowed Dark that secretly protects mankind from unknown creatures of the dark after he and Grey encounter one. As it comes, there were much bigger plotted evil that is arising as the Knights will have to faced old foes that will once and for all, bring destruction to mankind. But Denizen's first problem would be the turn of his 13th birthday that will, without a choice, putting his life on the line of death and misery.


Just reading this small summary of mine or even from what was provided on the blurb doesn't sound that awesome but after a few chapters, I am beginning to think how far this book can truly go. It has so much potential to be made into a movie. Heck, it is so much more than that as it is well written with poetic sentences and words that is truly rich of learning. Words like:


The whole scene had the glassy, unmoving perfection of a postcard.


... or even...


Simon whispered as they picked their way through a graveyard of candles, the carpet of sea of crushed tallow, the air darkened by a thousand snake tongues of smoke.


I am floored by how well describe each chapter has that not only it is meant to, but it has been a long time since anyone wrote any of that way much better than any middle-grade book I have read. The fantasy element is quite original, but it has been seen before. The execution of the story is pretty much a fantasy adventure kind, that is both exciting and thrilling for me and although one part of the plot is predictable, I felt its forgivable because the delivery is just as exciting as I enjoy it the second 1/2 of the book. Yes, the first 1/2 of the book can be a little draggy as introductions of the characters are well weaved but the excitement begins later. Well, rounded as the characters are memorable and although this is a trilogy, Knights of the Borrowed Dark was only recently released earlier this year and so, some parts of the book have questions to readers that I hope, will be fulfilled in the later sequels.


I have long for a good fantasy novel for quite some time, but a modern fantasy novel that has the standards of what most other would appeal to fans of Rick Riordan and Derek Landy, anyone that hasn't read Percy Jackson would be happy to read this book if they give this a shot. I am glad that I did, satisfied with it and can't wait for the sequel to be released next year.

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review 2016-10-11 12:23
Knights of the Borrowed Dark
Knights of the Borrowed Dark - Dave Rudden

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

An enjoyable middle-grade novel, even though not the most original ever. Denizen (not the best of names, to be honest) is an orphan, grew up in an orphanage, has never known his parents, and nobody has information about them. But on his 13th birthday, an aunt he was never told about offers to have him home for a few days… and perhaps more?

After this start somewhat common to a lot of books in this category, and somewhat slow as well, things picked up. Denizen is introduced to a new world, and the author isn’t shy of showing that world’s darkness, literally (the Tenebrous) as well as figuratively: the magic has its toll, and is of the kind you need to use scarcely, otherwise it burns its users. Granted, I found the world-building a bit shoddy in places—great concepts, like the Endless King, the Emissary and Os Reges (the latter were beautiful and haunting, in their own twisted, creepy ways), but the Knights seemed to hold little enough information about their own Order and history, which felt odd. I could sense there was much more to develop here, yet was unsure whether it’d be in a next novel in the series, or something that just… wasn’t too thought-out.

In general, the characters were enjoyable. The Knights all had their little quirks, and Grey especially was a character I warmed up to very quickly. Denizen, too, in spite of some childish-pouting moments (he’s 13, after all), was overall a lovable kid. He’s ready to fight for his friends and even for strangers, yet also as savvy enough to obey orders and not get in the way, not too much that is, where I would have expected too stupid to live moments. And when he does “get in the way”, usually it’s because someone’s life is at stake and there’s no other apparent solution, since trying to find help would take too much time. There was one specific moment when his decision felt stupid; this said, it was prompted by wanting to help someone he trusts a lot, so it makes it more… understandable? It wasn’t some silly reason like “wanting to impress the others”, it stemmed from a genuine desire to help.

I hope Simon will be more developed in the next novels, as he seems interesting too but obviously couldn’t be devoted much time to, being at the orphanage and all. Also, I feared some romance with Abigail, but for now she seems to be more the potential friend than potential love interest, and it’d be great if things stayed like that, because I can’t sense much between Denizen and her in terms of “romance chemistry”.

Where this novel fell flat for me, apart from the world building, was in how its characters, albeit sympathetic, weren’t given enough spotlight. Especially the Knights (Darcie, D’Aubigny, Fuller Jack). Getting to know them better would help in making me feel closer, more involved. Finally, some twists were of the expected kind, and not always handled as well as they could have been.

However, in general, it was a good read, that I went through like a breeze. I think that in terms of “fantasy, magic and adventure books for a middle-grade audience”, it will keep its intended readers entertained. 3 stars, going on 3.5.

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text 2016-07-09 18:49
Harry Potter With Flair
Knights of the Borrowed Dark - Dave Rudden

A thirteen year old boy discovers he has special powers and is recruited into a hidden order of knights who protect the world from chaotic forces. A routine fantasy premise certainly, but there is nothing routine about the panache with which Dave Rudden writes. His prose sparkles with arresting images, his characters leap off the page, and his plot twists and turns like a technicolour eel.


He is, in short, a first class storyteller. You can positively feel his enjoyment in creating and layering the narrative, playing with the reader’s expectations, then pulling the rug from under them, and that enjoyment is infectious. As a result, reading Knights Of The Borrowed Dark is enormous fun. It’s like Harry Potter with flair.

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review 2016-04-26 00:00
Knights of the Borrowed Dark
Knights of the Borrowed Dark - Dave Rudden Now that was a refreshingly different YA, set in Ireland but not Ireland-centric, this is a story of an orphan who discovers he has powers but also has smart-ass and smarts. I really did enjoy this and look forward to the next in the series.
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