Title: Bennett (The Chronicles of the White Tower: Book Two)
Author: Mark Patrick
Publisher: Lyrical Press, Inc
Date Published: Feb, 2010
Length: 181 pages
Bennett is a knight of the White Tower. Badly injured while trying to escape from Ashtar, a kingdom where he is most unwelcome, the knight is found floating far down river by inhabitants of a friendlier land. While recuperating from his wounds, Bennett crosses paths with another member of his order, a knight by the name of Conrad. A Romany woman (gypsy) is traveling with Conrad’s entourage in the capacity of friend and protector of the knight’s wife. When Conrad finds out Bennett must return to Ashtar to complete his assignment, Stella, the gypsy, who is also a trained assassin, is offered to Bennett because of her useful contacts in Ashtar.
After Bennett is well, the two forge ahead. A growing attraction between Bennett and Stella soon turns into a gypsy marriage (the couple need only jump over a broom). Soon after, Bennett discovers an ancient place of power. It seems Stella is destined to release an ancient Mistress of War by sharing her body with the imprisoned spirit.
Together, the three embark on a mission to stop a former knight of the White Tower (who has turned to the dark arts) from causing a war between neighbouring kingdoms. This dark knight, named Mandrake, already holds one kingdom under his influence. He must be stopped in his tracks.
Bennett, like it’s predecessor, Janette’s Tale, is a well written and swiftly moving tale. The author takes the liberty of writing his period fantasy in modern English, making the story an easy read. Characters are well drawn, one can easily visualize the land in which these characters travel and/or reside, and the reader will have no difficulty connecting or empathizing with Patrick’s fictional people.
Unfortunately (even though Bennett is the better of the two books), Mark Patrick continues the pattern of making his heroes and heroines far too powerful. For a story to have real tension, to have the ability to keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat, the central conflict of the tale must be very strong. In other words, the reader must believe it’s possible for the bad guys to win. They definitely need to see the protagonist(s) struggle.
I was hopeful when Bennett started with a badly hurt hero. Unfortunately, the rest of the action was predictable. Patrick’s knight and Mistress of War don’t even raise a sweat for the rest of the novel. How disappointing.
Mark Patrick tells stories very well, and I can’t find fault with his technical or writing skills. If he could just understand the concept of placing main characters into terrible trouble or extreme conflict and keeping them there until the dénouement of the tale, his books would become the special things readers are looking for.
Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye
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