Reviewed by Sandra Scholes
The fantasy genre has undergone a change recently if you remember the macho, ultra-masculine novels of the seventies, eighties and nineties, the lead characters dashed through forests, hacking and slashing anyone with the greatest of ease. He is normally the sort of warrior who would fight first and ask questions later but also get through a great number of willing maidens for good measure. Tristan, the Magic of Prophecy’s hero is nothing like that and this is what makes the novel so readable.
As the king’s knight, Sir Tristan Pathfinder hears about the threat against the kingdom of Caldor. In Caldor, goblins are thought of as sneaky, cowardly and deserve to be interrogated, tortured and even executed if they are under suspicion by Naithan, the king. Tristan sees first-hand how one gets captured and tortured in the king’s dungeons, after the king orders him to be executed, then wants his remains thrown to the pigs. He instantly sees this as wrong and decides to do something about it – picking up the goblin and carrying it away on his horse. This random act of kindness is short lived however, as he realises that by freeing the goblin, he has gone against his king’s orders and will never be allowed to be the king’s knight again.
As if this wasn’t enough, Tristan is a sensitive man, a warrior knight who has seen many battles. His sensitivity doesn’t mean he is any less a man, though he did know Matthew, a psychic who can read his thoughts, and if he had heard his thoughts during his goblin rescue, he could have been sent for brainwashing treatment in the Redirecting Chamber. He is aware that he can’t function in the outdoors for very long now that he is in the middle of nowhere, as his horse needs proper feed, and, like anyone would do, he breaks down in tears. He has no way of getting food for himself other than catching it, but even that involves him fashioning makeshift weapons to take down such as a dear or rabbit, and you get the idea that this might go against his own code of conduct. This section of the book isn’t the sort of action you would associate with other leading men in fantasy novels as most like to make their characters manlier. I like that Mark has decided to go against the grain and give his knight a touch of femininity – it suits him and prevents him from being just another knucklehead fighting for justice.
At five-hundred and sixty-seven pages, for a part one you will have to either take it in bite-sized chapters (one a day like a cod liver oil capsule) or shut yourself in your room for a month (or two) but to get through you might have to be a fast reader.