The Lightning Knight (The Knights of Nine Book 1) by Sean P. Valiente

Magic isn’t real. Not anymore and not like it used to be. Or so I thought…

16-year-old Oliver Quartermain doesn’t believe in magic anymore. But who cares? He has it all: he comes from a rich and noble family and doesn’t have a care in the world. But how quickly that can all change.

In the space of a few moments, Oliver’s life is turned upside down when he is tasked with protecting and saving the very magic he never believed in. But that’s not even the half of it. The only way to save magic is by training a young boy named Po Pondarion, who is destined to save the world.

Not only does Oliver have to train the young and totally clueless Po, but he also has to battle an evil secret organization bent on destroying them, all while deciphering the secrets of a Magical Codex. Oliver enlists the help of his unlikely best friends, Roc and Yokel, as well as the Knight Angels, secretive vigilantes he’s only recently met, to help him train Po and save the world. That should be simple, right?

Will this merry band of misfits be able to train the young Po in time for him to learn the secrets of magic and save its very existence forever?

The Lightning Knight is a gripping epic fantasy that will have you on the edge of your seat, eagerly flipping to the next page. Let yourself become emersed in this rich and magical world and join Oliver and Po on the adventure of a lifetime.

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I was sent a digital copy of The Lightning Knight by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Sean P. Valiente!

According to Amazon this book is written for the 13-18 year age group, but despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. From looking at the cover design I got the impression the story would be much darker than it was.

The Lightning Knight is an epic YA fantasy told entirely from the point of view of Oliver Quartermaine, the sixteen year old son of a wealthy nobleman. His mother is dead and his father, a highly talented Smith and Inventor, is absent more often than not. He has a younger sister, Reagan, with whom he is close and also an older brother, Wiggin, who left them five years ago and has not been seen since.

Oliver is very talented at fighting and his story follows his journey via the Southern Tournament towards the ultimate fighting tournament – the Dragon Championship. Along the way he is supported by a cast of friends and family, his sister Reagan, the love of his life, Iris, his best friend Riley “Roc” Roclan, who is a jousting tournament champion, Yokel, his other best friend and a master strategist, and Hugo “Po” Pondarian, a 12 year old who they decide to train as their squire, when Oliver is given a quest to protect Po. 

Starfall, the town in which they live, is part of a kingdom which used to know magic, but from which magic was banished by the High Queen Soraya:

The High Queen was known to hate magic more than anyone, and she had been sent to Soraya from a distant land by the Nine Gods themselves to rid our world of it. They’d blessed her with eternal life, and she used that life to further her quest. Her Black Sun Battalion was charged with destroying all rumors of magic and all the people related to it.

Before the High Queen, all the kingdoms and queendoms of Soraya were splintered and separate. Magic was used by those who could summon it for all manner of tasks, including waging war. The legendary Knights of Nine were said to help quell those wars and protect those who used magic, but the Knights had been defeated by the High Queen and were never seen again.

Early in the story, Oliver is given a number of quests which include saving magic, rescuing Iris from a relationship with his nemesis, the bully Rhidan, saving his friends from Rhidan and his cronies, and protecting Po, who is supposed to become the next Lightning Knight.

Oliver, Roc, Yokel and Po form a vigilante alliance, which they name Whisky Danger and together patrol the city from the rooftops, trying to keep it safe. In so doing they meet two mysterious “Knight Angels”, Pathfinder and Windrunner who join their group but whose identities remain hidden, by masks and voice changing apparatus, until near the end of the novel. I think most readers would be able to guess who these two characters are, and I found it a little frustrating that Oliver was unable to.

There are magical artefacts in their world – Iris has a magical book which Oliver takes from her and finds that, with the help of a ring given to him by Po, he is able to unlock it and converse through the book with a snarky old man called Haralabos – the previous Lightning Knight who resides in the in-between, a timeless place.

In addition to the main story there are many exciting secondary elements: a secret society known as The Spider’s Web, dragons, mentions of elves and goblins – which I suspect will come into play in future stories. There are also some annoyingly cheesy parts to the story – Oliver sings a song in front of the entire school, to try and win Iris’s affection and it felt to me very much like something out of “High School Musical”. Oliver is also a ladies man and seems to win the affection of any beautiful girl he meets. This facet of his character was something I didn’t enjoy – but after all he is only sixteen and stupidly rich, so I can probably forgive him! It leads to a lot of confusion on Oliver’s part, a love triangle and much teenage angst, which may put off some readers. Oliver comes to the time-honoured conclusion:

 “Girls were complicated and boys were dumb.”

There were some badass female characters in this book – Reagan and Pathfinder in particular – which I enjoyed.

I didn’t really like the amount of alcohol these kids drank, or the pipe-smoking Fool who was supposed to be about their age. If this book is aimed at 13-18 year olds (according to Amazon) I felt those themes could have been downplayed.

However I did like the positive message which came up a few times:

“Why make enemies, when you can make friends?”

There were also the difficult subjects of slaves and xenophobia in the city of Romiria, which were not delved into deeply and which were treated with dislike by our heroes.

Another thing readers may find jarring is the inclusion of trains, matches, elevators and voice changing technology, in a typical (yet supposedly non-magical)  fantasy world, which were explained away by the fact that Oliver’s father, grandfather and uncle had all been extremely talented inventors. I was prepared to accept this explanation so these anachronistic-feeling items did not bother me.

There is a lot of action in this novel and it flows along at a fairly fast pace, with jousting tournaments, swordplay, (too much) romance, plenty of magic in a world where magic is no longer supposed to exist, dragons, secret societies, and much more. If you like coming of age stories, with quests undertaken by a group of very supportive friends, I would recommend this book without hesitation.

Raised in Maine, Sean Valiente grew up loving all things geek. He now spends his days as a financial professional for a tech company, and his nights dreaming up fantasy worlds.

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