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The Jaguar Knights, by Dave Duncan Book Review | SFReader.com
The Jaguar Knights, by Dave Duncan Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Harper Collins Published: 2004 Review Posted: 12/28/2004 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 8 out of 10
The Jaguar Knights, by Dave Duncan
Book Review by Steven Sawicki
Have you read this book?
I like the way Dave Duncan writes and I've really enjoyed his King's Blades series, although I found this particular book to be less than what I've come to expect. The King's Blades are boys, sometimes homeless, sometimes in trouble with the law, sometimes called, who enter the keep called Ironhall to learn to become fighters and to wait to be bound to the King or to one the King selects. This is typically an honor but that really depends on the King.
This time, Duncan focuses on Wolf, a blade used by the King for the nastiest of tasks due to some bad blood between them. The task at hand is to leave in the midst of a huge storm to investigate the attack on a royal fortress. Wolf goes, paired with an inquisitor, and with the added incentive that his brother was grievously injured in the assault, roots out an amazing story of half beasts/half men who fought with primitive weapons and took brutal losses apparently to capture an ex-concubine of the king.
The trail leads to a distant land with strange inhabitants who are fighting off an invasion from a neighboring kingdom. But this foreign land is different with different cultures, different beliefs, different magics and a rather brutal way of generating spells. This is where the book, for me, took somewhat of a downturn. Duncan, rather than creating this culture independantly, chose to mirror the Spanish invasion of the Incan and Mayan cultures. This jarred me quite a bit as I kept reading through pieces that just didn't seem to fit this world. As well, the quest that Wolf is sent on is somewhat diaphanous-—he is told to go and get information—-and so we get a lot of description of what's happening but in a plot that's a bit thin. There is a parallel plot going on, that of Wolf's brother, Lynx, who recuperates enough to head off to follow the one he is bound to, that same ex-concubine that was snatched in the beginning of the book.
But the stories never really build enough tension and the splitting of the two makes the whole thing feel a bit disjointed. This, coupled with the setting which resonates pretty high on the familiarity meter, takes just enough off the sense of wonder that I have come to expect from these books. I still enjoyed getting from beginning to end, but I'd have to say it was probably the weakest book in the whole series to date.
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