Denizen Hardwick has lived a boring, albeit safe and predictable, 12 years in an orphanage on the west coast of Ireland. He escapes the mundanity by reading anything he can get his hands on. He doesn’t sit around fantasising about something crazy happening to him, because that only happens in books.
KOTBD is the eagerly-anticipated debut and first in the trilogy from Dave Rudden. Traversing the country while alluding to various other global locations, Denizen’s discovery of a mysterious group of knights opens up a world of ‘borrowed darkness.’
What we get is a pulpy mix of medieval lore and pure inventiveness. Rudden’s main strengths lie in his core concept of the knights who defend the world from intruding dark forces through a form of ‘magic’ (though they hate that term). The knights pay a ‘cost’ by turning gradually to iron each time they use the power to vanquish the darkness. The author’s descriptions are also a joy to read, such as ‘the road looped round the shoulders of the mountain like a tailor’s measuring tape.’ I found myself re-reading passages to enjoy the description and characterisation in various parts of the book.
The plot itself is propelled by a well-rounded cast of characters, none moreso than Denizen himself, a boy who is cynical to the point of having a compendium of frowns. Rudden is also unflinching in shedding blood; nobody is safe, which is always a great and brave feature to see in a series, particularly this early in a trilogy!
It leaves you wanting more, and fortunately Dave Rudden seems game to the challenge: Book 2 is already written and we’re already looking forward to it.