Dave Duncan

The Kings Daggers: Sir Stalwart (1999), The Crooked House (2000)

The King's Blades: The Gilded Chain (1998), Lord of the Fire Lands (1999)

The Great Game: Past Imperative (1995), Present Tense (1996), Future Indefinite (1997)

The Kings Daggers

Sir Stalwart (1999)

Sir StalwartCandidate Stalwart has been training since he was thirteen to become one of the King's Blades--the elite group of guards whose lives are sworn and bound to the king. Emerald had just been sworn as a White Sister, when a magical attack leads one of her young charges to harm. Meanwhile, repeated attempts have been made on the King's life, and a group of retired blades are seeking to find the mages responsible.

Well, if nothing else the story is cute. Quick and cute. And there are far worse things to say about a book than that.
However, this story is nothing spectacular. Coming in at a very short 229 pages, the story is fast paced, and quickly read.

With that in mind, I am wondering is this was written more as a young adult book rather than a traditional fantasy. Both of the main characters are teenagers. Both are almost unbearably brave, and there isn't a hint of sex or coarse language to be found--unless you consider calling the King, "Fat Man" a form of coarse language. All the horrors are muted, as is the injury and dying. So the story is perfectly acceptably for any age.

What the book does have going for it is a fast pace and action right from the start, and a story arc barely 200 pages long--almost unheard of in fantasy. A nice break and reprieve.

There's nothing particularly wrong with this book, it's just that there's nothing particularly right about it either. It's just unremarkable average. But it did only take about two hours to read, so it's a nice break. A light snack if you will.

Rating: 6/10

The Crooked House (2000)

The Crooked HouseThe further adventures of Sir Stalwart and Sister Emerald. In summary: Pride goeth before the fall.

Pretty much the same as the first book. Teenage characters. Acting pretty much as you'd expect teenager heroes to act.

I liked The Crooked House even less than Sir Stalwart. For one thing, the sole female character is pretty much an afterthought. They bring her along for absolutely no reason that I can determine, and she doesn't do anything, other than than ride a horse, and provide someone for Wart to be annoyed at. Oh yeah, plus she gets to be told to run for help. How exciting for her.

I can think of no reason to recommend either Sir Stalwart or The Crooked House except that they're short books.

Rating: 4/10