The Palace of the Dawn will soon be stormed. The most ruthless man of all time is one step away from assailing on Iovbridge and dethroning Sophie Delamere. The Queen of Knightdorn is now alone, with neither allies nor an army capable of rebuffing the enemy which is approaching her city. Everything appears to be over, until a mysterious young man, Elliot, makes his appearance.
Entangled in a web of lies and politics, Elliot will try to draw Walter away from Iovbridge and face him in the stronghold of Wirskworth. He will attempt to rekindle relations and revive the old alliance between the Queen of Knightdorn and Syrella Endor, the Governor of Wirskworth. Elliot’s mission will take every fibre of his will and if he fails, so shall the kingdom.
The Return of the Knights is a very classic feeling epic fantasy novel, full of many well-known tropes. It was an enjoyable read that didn’t break a lot of new ground for me. I am however, reminded of the first book of many classic epic fantasy series that follow the same style but start branching out and becoming their own thing in book two. I see enough hints that this will be the case for this series as well, and I am excited to see where the author goes from here.
The story mostly focuses on Elliot, a farmboy who turns out to be more than a farmboy, that comes to help the Queen save her kingdom from her conquering cousin. All hope is lost until Elliot arrives with a plan and the skills to save the day. I must admit I am a bit weary of this particular trope, especially at the ease with which Elliot comes in and solves their problems. There is some explanation given for why he can do this but it still comes off as a bit too convenient. Elliot is also largely an unlikeable protagonist for now, he is self-righteous and overconfident. I am perfectly fine with unlikeable protagonists as long as they have a character arc that helps them grow and change but I know that some people do not like them so this is something to be aware of. I do get the feeling that Elliot will get a proper character arc over the course of the series.
The characters in this novel are also reminiscent of classic fantasy novels. Elliot and most of the other protagonists are good to a fault and the villains are evil incarnate. There isn’t a lot of middle ground. This isn’t really a problem for me, though it might be for some. I am a fan of morally complex characters as much as anyone but there’s also something to be said for the classic conflict of good vs evil. There is one character that I think will be a fan favorite that is a bounty hunter and has some questionable morals, though it is shown that even he is really a good guy at the core.
I am a huge fan of deep and complex worldbuilding and The Return of the Knights has plenty of that. It seems like the author really know the lore and history of his world and there is still much more of it to explore. We get glimpses of some classic fantasy races as well as some less well known ones and I am excited to see them feature more prevalently in future entries. There is also a lot of in world politics and scheming that will help satisfy that itch for readers who enjoy inter-kingdom political tension. The only caveat I have about the worldbuilding is that it is info-dumpy at times. There are multiple occasions where the author throws a lot of history at the reader all at once in the form of a character reminiscing on the past or some other similar device. This can cause some confusion because of the number of named characters and events that we are supposed to remember. Overall I am a big fan of the world the author has created, but it could have been delivered in more streamlined ways so as to not overwhelm the reader.
This novel was translated to English from Greek and I think the translator did an excellent job for the most part. I was never confused by the prose and for the most part I would not have been able to tell that is was translated at all. The English prose is mostly straightforward, without much embellishment, but it did not come across as simplistic to me. I enjoyed the experience of reading and did not come across many stumbling block with the writing itself.
With all that said The Return of the Knights was a fun read and I recommend it to new fantasy readers or those looking for a nostalgic read. If this doesn’t sound like the book for you I would suggest keeping an eye on the series and give it a try when book 2 comes out because I have the feeling that the series will turn out to be something special.