***WARNING!!! SERIOUS SPOILERS AHEAD FROM BOOK I!!***
The once-benevolent, but insanity-driven monarch of Liiria, King Akeela, is dead, as is his queen, Cassandra, whom the king’s Bronze Knight, Lukien, loved with all his heart and had a secret affair with. Tragically, the mystical Eyes of God could not save the woman whom both men loved from her cancerous disease.
Lukien has now driven himself into exile, choosing to protect the folk of the mystical fortress of Grimhold, which in fact is not a haven for monsters and forces of darkness, but a place of miracles where people with afflictions are aided by the benevolent spirits of the ancient Akari race and given special powers to deal with their disabilities. One such individual, Gilwyn Toms, is regent of the desert kingdom of Jador, while his love, White-Eye, the next in line after her father who died by Akeela’s armies, must stay in Grimhold because of her sensitivity to the sun. Along with Lukien, Gilwyn helps guard Jador and Grimhold from the wicked Price Aztar and his Raiders, who want the Desert of Tears for themselves, and will show no hesitancy in wiping out the Seekers, the pilgrims from the North who have heard of the miraculous wonders of Grimhold and seek to be cured of their afflictions. For the wise and exotic Minikin, Mistress of Grimhold, this situation is very stressful, because the number of Akari spirits to help the disabled is sadly finite, thus some will have to be turned away.
Meanwhile in the North, the once-glorious kingdom of Liiria is besieged, as the warmongering Diamond Queen Jazana Carr has usurped the throne of the kingdom of Norvor, and now sets her sights on Liiria, and her mercenary hordes are on the march to conquer it. The remaining Royal Chargers are holed up in the Cathedral of Knowledge, that was built by King Akeela as a magnificent library but is now being used as a fortress. The remaining knights are prepared to fight to the death to keep their kingdom from the clutches of the Bitch-Queen.
And Baron Thorin Glass, former advisor of King Akeela and later lover of Jazana Carr, has uncovered and employed a dark and deadly artifact in the depths of Grimhold; the Devil’s Armor, a sinister and powerful suit of armor forged by the wicked Akari, Kahldris, and possessed by his spirit….
I really genuinely enjoyed this second installment in the “Bronze Knight Trilogy.” John Marco really knows what he’s doing here and proves that yet again he is an excellent established writer in the fantasy field. This volume proves to be three times better than the first one, if not more so. It’s dark and gritty and reminds me very much of George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire Series.” The story is riveting and Jazana Carr proves to be a quite interesting villain, as does Baron Glass who now dons the Devil’s Armor and is possessed by the spirit of Kahldris.
The character of Lukien is even more interesting in this book as he is now a rather brooding, solemn, tormented-type hero, and there is no shortage of epic battle scenes.
I really felt for the pilgrims that weren’t able to be let into Grimhold as well to be aided by the Akari. As a person with a disability, I can identify with this certainly. It is evident that Marco has compassion on the disabled and is aware of their struggle, and that touches me deeply.
The scenes of magic in this book are kept few and far between this time, so when a magic event happens it is truly magnificent and awe-inspiring. I immensely look forward to reading the final volume, “The Sword of Angels.”
All in all an excellent book. I give “The Devil’s Armor” by John Marco a five out of five.