With the melee at Bari, Italy, Marcus Annan has yet another tourney, yet another death to put behind him. It’s all he’s good for now, or so he thinks.
He’s put a lot of things behind him—his whole life actually—but the darkest secrets from his past are about to show up, and an old acquaintance wants to reopen an old wound. The secret drives Annan from one fray in Bari toward another one in Acre. He hardly knows what he wants to do there—but he’s about to get dragged down anyway by an undercurrent of schemes and betrayal.
After reading K. M. Weiland’s Dreamlander last year, I’ve been interested in reading more by her. Behold the Dawn was high on the list since it’s historical adventure novel set during the crusades—the Middle Ages, King Richard, and all that other lovely history. The story isn't really about that history, but the history gives this story a good background and sets the tone for the rest of the adventure.
When I first started Behold the Dawn, it was a little hard to get into the story, mostly because I was trying to read the book while chasing down several other distractions. This week, though, I decided to set aside a couple of days and start over.
My final take? I really like this book.
Behold the Dawn does have a couple rough sections toward the beginning of the story, and I did a bit of a double-take at one poorly worded metaphor, but the writing overall felt easy to follow and the story itself raced through an amazing journey of dark corners and twisted secrets.
Best of all, Marcus had me cheering for him by the time I was well into the story. He’s got a history rather like most other broody heroes, but I felt he avoided the annoying angst that goes with that stereotype. He’s good at fighting, for one thing. He thinks it’s doomed him and he has no chance at escaping the life of an accursed tourneyer, but since he’s good at it, he has no problem with going after someone—especially when the guy is just asking for it. At the same time, he’s also honorable, though a bit rough on the outside.
Add to that a smart aleck squire who is quite willing to call his master a troll, a love story, a handful of other characters, and a well-played plot. This isn’t a fun and word-play story, but it’s a good story of hope and second chances.
It’s also just a fun story to read—in fact, by the time all the secrets had spilled out, I was ready to start reading all over again. I actually did go back and reread a couple earlier sections after the final plot twist, just to admire how well I’d been suckered into those first couple of chapters.
I’ll probably want to go back and reread this book at some point, and I would definitely recommend it for adventure/historian fans. Story nerds and writers might also want to check out K. M. Weiland's site on writing craft: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/
[My thanks to K. M. Weiland and Story Cartel for sending me a free Kindle copy of Behold the Dawn, in exchange for my honest opinion of the book. ]