Falcon and the Sword
The opening of Falcon and the Sword is one of the most powerful I have read, and the ending is one of the most poignant. What’s in-between, however, falls short of the exciting beginning and is certainly not nearly as touching as the conclusion.
At the beginning, there is Bron, a Templar Knight, a warrior for God, fighting the infidels in the Holy Land, struck down, dying, with his sword arm nearly severed. He is visited by the Lady of Lonegrine, a mythical healer, for whom he sacrifices his chasteness, and is seemingly healed. Only this is a dream, a vision. . . or is it?
Several months later, Sir Bron, the bastard son of the rotten Lord of Tamberlay, has been released from his oath to the Templar Knights, and seeks his fortune from his lame half-brother Hugh, the rightful heir of Castle Tamberlay. Traveling with him is dwarf jester, Kevin. Bron, honorable to the bone, has decided to become dishonorable, to debauch, and enjoy all the good stuff he’s heard about but never experienced.
His half-brother Hugh, a man of questionable (at best) ethics, will help him earn his way if he will undertake a spying mission. His first stop? The castle where the Lady of Lonegrine is said to have lived.
What does he find in that hidden mountain retreat? A young falconer who isn’t what he seems, or rather, what she seems. The falconer is Ariel, a mysterious and beautiful young woman who doesn’t know who she is, a young woman thought to be a witch, a young woman firmly under the thumb of her overlord, Rufus.
Once Bron meets Ariel, past beliefs and allegiances fall to the wayside. Chasteness, his brother’s mission, her oath of chastity to her overlord – none of these things is strong enough to counteract their feelings for one another, which are more than lust (hail to the author!), and are based on intuition, trust, and a meeting of the souls.
There are so many obstacles to get by, however, for these two to ever be together and be happy. A few too many, in this reviewer’s opinion. I was willing to put up with the mythical mistiness, the dreams, the visitations, and the half-truths about Ariel’s past, but when Ariel and Bron face the obstacle his half-brother interjects, and what Ariel thinks would destroy Bron, I lost my patience.
And, while many of the secondary characters, such as Kevin, and Rufus’ mistress Gillian, were interesting and well-drawn, I thought Hugh and Rufus were too simplistic and evil. What I did enjoy was Ariel’s hidden clan of misfits. They allowed Ariel to be the person she wanted to be. They allowed Ariel to see Bron as he could be.
I never felt much chemistry between Ariel and Bron – their kisses, and love scenes were few and far between. While the book presents an interesting story, it got a bit convoluted toward the end; I think the author could have removed some sections that didn’t work and still achieved what she was going for.
And, for all my professed love of books based on external conflict, this book bogged down for lack of internal conflict. Bron, as much as he tried to be dishonorable, well, he just wasn’t cut out to be arrogant or immoral. Bron and Ariel belonged together so easily as people that there wasn’t much sexual tension, or interpersonal tension. All the tension came from the outside, with the exception of the sub-plot Hugh interjects, so that their longing for one another was never truly felt by the reader.
As I indicated, the start of this book is so very exciting, and the end is so touching and sweet, I really expected overall, a better read than I got. This reviewer finds Medievals tend to be slow reading in general (unless they really work for me), and this, unfortunately, was no exception. While Bron was an interesting character, frankly, Ariel was too much of a mess for me to appreciate.
Don’t get me wrong; this is not a bad book, merely a forgettable one. If you enjoy Medievals with a touch of magic, some interesting secondary characters, and lots of twists and turns, this might work for you. For me, there were a few too many twists and turns, and a decided lack of spark.