Briefly Noted: ‘Traitor Knight’ by Keith Willis
Traitor Knight, by Keith Willis (Champagne Books, September 7, 2015), Kindle book, 358pp.
Disclaimer: I’ve known Keith Willis for 30 years and for 30 years I’ve been waiting to see a novel with his name on the cover. While I’m a fan of many sub-genres of fantasy literature, I’ve thought for years that we needed more fantasy with a dash of wit in it; I can tell by the first two lines of this novel that Keith’s sense of humor has found its way into this story:
“A clamor of rooks exploded through the trees, nearly drowning out the woman’s scream.
“Morgan straightened in the saddle. Trouble, at last. The patrol had been boring up ’til now.”
From the Publisher
“When Morgan McRobbie rescues a damsel-in-distress from a dragon, he expects she’ll swoon, murmuring ‘My hero!’ Instead, Marissa has only loathing for the man everyone believes will betray Kilbourne. That’s fine with Morgan. A woman in his life would just complicate things.
“A high-level informer threatens the kingdom’s security, and Morgan is out to stop him. Posing as a turncoat himself, he’s walking a fine line between honor and betrayal. A single misstep could result in disaster, and his mission is fraught with distractions: the pesky dragon, a pair of conniving courtiers, and the disillusioned damsel who’s certain Morgan can’t be trusted.
“If Morgan’s going to save the kingdom, win the girl, and manage to stay alive, he’ll need to step up his game. Because the traitor is lurking in the shadows, and his scheme calls not just for the betrayal of Kilbourne, but also the destruction of Morgan McRobbie.”
Okay, I’ll admit that I saw excerpts from the manuscript about a year ago, so I knew where the book was going before reading this description on Amazon and copying down the first two lines for this post. But even if I hadn’t seen them (the excerpts), I still would have been hooked by the inherent promise within the book’s listing: great, long-lasting fun.
Now, if you’re wondering where Keith has been during the past 30 years, you’ll discover that on his website where he confesses quite boldly that his double major in English Lit and French qualified him for little but unemployment benefits. He’s been a manager because, “Those who can’t teach, manage.” (You can also follow Traitor Knight on Facebook.)
Those of us who write usually have a knight’s quest of unemployment benefits, corporate jobs, damsels in distress, traitors and clamoring rooks on our résumés before the first book comes out. Although luck has less to do with it than hard work, we still say, “if we’re lucky” that book will be a Holy Grail of a hit.
For me, Traitor Knight was well worth the wait, and when the paperback edition is released, it will sit well on my bookshelf next to my treasure trove of stories about Merlin, King Arthur, Lancelot, Gawain, and the rest of legendary heroes who rode out to save what needed saving.