The Devil’s Knight
Lucy Blue has gotten some good buzz on the our message boards and I’m happy to find that buzz warranted, for The Devil’s Knight is an exciting, great read.
Rebel brigands attack the partially finished castle belonging to Tristan, a Norman nobleman, and because the peasants inside help them, they succeed in breaching the defenses. Tristan and his knights fight valiantly, but Tristan finally surrenders when his young daughter is captured and threatened with death.
The leader of the brigands, Sean, forces Tristan to marry his sister Siobhan. The plan is that Tristan will die in an “accident” days after his wedding so that his widow, Siobhan, will inherit the property. While Siobhan and Tristan don’t hide their mutual hatred of each other, they also find themselves strongly attracted to each other. Still, that doesn’t stop Tristan’s imminent execution.
After Sean has Tristan beaten almost to death and then escorted away from the castle, two of the men prepare to kill him when a huge wolf appears out of nowhere, killing them instead – and drinking their blood. The wolf then changes into a man with long white fangs. When the creature attacks Tristan and begins to drink his blood, Tristan bites it back in defense and drinks its blood. Tristan’s strength returns and his injuries disappear. The creature tells Tristan that he has become something like itself, but Tristan doesn’t mind being a creature because he now has the means to exact revenge on the brigands.
Tristan and Siobhan are well-drawn characters. Tristan is a huge, intimidating warrior who fights in a very brutal fashion, yet he remains appealing because of his great love for his young daughter, Clare. He can’t forget or forgive Siobhan for threatening his daughter’s life, so he is astounded to be attracted to her. Siobhan may be even tougher than Tristan. She has an arrow imbedded in her shoulder yanked out and returns to fighting immediately; she has her throat nearly ripped out by Tristan, now a vengeful vampire, yet picks herself up afterwards to go hunt him down. This is a kick-ass heroine to appreciate. Siobhan eventually becomes torn between her growing love for Tristan and her loyalty to her brother.
Enemies becoming lovers makes a riveting story, because you wonder how the author will pull it off. Siobhan and Tristan have strong reasons for hating each other, but author Lucy Blue does a believable and convincing job of portraying their changing ideas of one another, learning to see past each other’s fronts of arrogant Norman nobleman and wild rebel. They grow to understand each other’s actions, and each are fair enough to forgive some of the past decisions the other has made.
The romance, along with the revenge plotline and a subplot involving Tristan and the vampire who made him, kept me turning the pages. Shifting agendas, exposed agendas, and secret agendas all made for exciting reading. This was a gritty, bloody, and violent book, and I relished every bloodthirsty detail of it. Blue writes with energy and gusto, which was an unexpected and pleasant surprise for me.
Sure, there are some nitpicks. Tristan takes the loss of his humanity rather nonchalantly, not dwelling at all on the fact he can’t walk around in the daytime anymore or that he has a radically different diet now. It’s also convenient that when a wolf/vampire turns back into a man, he happens to be wearing some clothes. And Tristan does a neat vampire trick with no explanation to the reader as to how or when he learned it. While the book clearly mentions that Tristan is Norman, it doesn’t mention that the brigands are Saxon; given the names Sean and Siobhan, I would have thought that they were Celts, but I’m not an expert in the origins of names.
In spite of all that, The Devil’s Knight was a highly entertaining and thrilling action tale. It ends with a terrific bang that I can’t wait to see resolved in the next book.