Welcome to the Semi-Finals stage of SPFBO 6! As you know, we already cut 25 books from our batch of 30 and announced our semi-finalists. Check out my SPFBO 6 Phase 1 page for more info!
Following the first, second, third and fourth semi-finalist reviews, our last up is The Knights of Dragonwatch by Eric T. Knight. We won’t be adding our ratings just yet (I’ll update this post later) to keep the race to the finalist spot interesting. The order of the reviews within a post will be the following: first will be the person who picked the book as a semi-finalist (in this case Nick), and then the others in alphabetical order.
So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at our fifth semi-finalist!
|Series: The Dragon Queen of Chaos #1
|Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
|Date of Publishing: May 8th 2020
Led by dragons, the Emperor’s vast army conquers every nation in its path…
The Emperor seeks to free the Dragon Queen from the Abyss. The only ones who could have opposed him are the Knights of Dragonwatch, an ancient order created to defend the world against the Dragon Queen, and they are no more, betrayed by one of their own and hunted to extinction.
Jarryd is a young man with a secret. He sees demons. The visions have plagued him since he witnessed a traumatic event as a small boy.
Jarryd lives in fear that his secret will be discovered, and he will be condemned to the fate of those who consort with demons. Or, even worse, that the demons will consume him, make him one of them.
As the visions grow ever more powerful, Jarryd sets out on a journey to find answers at Knights Keep, the ancestral home of the Dragonwatch Knights. The journey brings him to the notice of the Emperor himself and sets Jarryd on a desperate quest to resurrect the Dragonwatch Knights.
Can Jarryd overcome the demons within himself and defeat the Emperor in time? Or will the Dragon Queen escape her prison and ravage the cosmos once again?
The Knights of Dragonwatch is a fun and entertaining fantasy read that was hands-down the best book of my group of six. After a brief rocky start, the book really settled in and revealed a comfort-read fantasy that reminded me somewhat of the Dragonlance books that I read growing up, yet had a very discernible edgy quality as well. The story starts off rather intensely as there is a commotion in the town square. A fanatical religious leader who is fairly new to the city has accused someone of the ultimate heresy and demands that he be put to death in front of the entire crowd. As most seem to be intimidated by him, they quickly acquiesce to his order and the brutal execution is delivered in front of the eyes of the young main character Jarryd. It definitely leaves an impression on him and even more so when the evil priest begins to suspect that Jarryd has been practicing magical abilities that put him in consort with the devil.
A tragedy occurs soon after which leads Jarryd to flee the city and seek refuge with a legendary ancestral group known as the Dragonwatch Knights. When he was a child his father would regale him with stories of their heroic deeds in protecting the realm, but did they really exist or was it all just a tale to help a young child get to sleep? When Jarryd finally reaches the Knight’s Keep he finds the place abandoned and empty. Or is it? Time is running out as the evil priest and even the Emperor himself are hot on the heels of the suspected heathen, and Jarryd knows that his only hope may lie with an order that may have been killed off long ago.
I enjoyed The Knights of Dragonwatch a great deal. It is by no means a perfect book. But there was an intensity and suspense, not to mention a really vile villain, that made this book the choice to carry the banner of semi-finalist for me. The writing is somewhat inconsistent at times but I just loved the mystery of the Knights of Dragonwatch and the thrill of the chase as Jarryd’s enemies were in hot pursuit. Rector Freckus the evil priest definitely gave me flashbacks to one of my favorite fantasy villains of all-time, Pryrates from Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series. While not as fleshed out and vivid as Pryrates, there still was a lot there that was similar enough to absolutely hate the Rector. It carried the story to a level that I don’t think would have otherwise been possible without his antagonism.
I recommend this book to those who are looking for a fun adventure fantasy that keeps you turning pages. I’m certainly interested in reading the rest of the The Dragon Queen of Chaos series based off this first volume. Out of all of the books that I was assigned to read, I enjoyed The Knights of Dragonwatch the most and have decided to put it forward as my semi-finalist choice among those that have been chosen by the rest of my teammates. Congratulations to Eric T. Knight for making it to the next level and for writing a really enjoyable fantasy tale that appealed to many of my fantasy reading sensibilities.
This kind of reminded me of some the eighties and nineties fantasy – like Eddings. It has that noblebright farm boy trope kind of thing happening and it’s a lot of fun. At first, I thought of this story being more into the YA side of things because it does start off feeling on the younger side, with the style, writing, and the main character, as we skip through a few ages until Jarryd has grown. I did like these age skips though because they gave us some nice insight to Jarryd’s personality and the people around him that helped to shape his character.
But once Jarryd is grown and sets out on his quest, things happen pretty quickly and the world gets a lot more complicated and feels a little less YA as we learn about the Emperor, magic, and of course the Dragonwatcher’s and their history and how Jarryd’s family fits into that particular space. I am wondering if the series grows with the character sort of like Harry Potter or if just hits the YA/NA area and stays there?
The battles were fun and Jarryd learning how to use his skills has that “origin story” feel to the lessons, which I always enjoy more when they are the hands-on Peter Parker style, than classroom style learning. I also loved the inclusion of Pythas. He and Jarryd were the perfect foil for one another. Jarryd and his hopeful optimism and Pythas with his grumpy ‘get off my lawn’ demeanor made for some good entertaining moments. I enjoyed the back half the book a lot because of their mentor/friendship relationship.
Some of the story was a little predictable to me but, that’s to be expected in an origin-type story and when you have been reading for as many years as I have. The ending leaves this wide open for lots more to tell and what looks like might turn into a really fun series.
This was such a fun, entertaining story! It features a great villain with a nicely thought out magic system. It was in some ways, a classic fantasy coming of age story and Eric T. Knight has a nice, easy to read writing style which eases the reader in nicely.
Jarryd, our main character is brilliant. Inspired by a pretty horrendous event and since Jarryd’s greatest wish was to become a knight, in order to fight evil but he was a shy and naïve lad and constantly bullied by other boys his age, however Jarryd refused to resort to violence as he believed in the Knight’s Code. He also used the code to ward off the evil dreams he had about the Queen of chaos and her re-entering the world.
This is a story about good against evil, about the use of clean energy called Kriyana which Jarryd learnt how to use from Pythas, against the evil chaos power the Emperor and his death squads. In Jarryd we are given an unlikely hero, but one who was always true and steadfast in his beliefs of honour and bravery but will he be enough to stop such evil from returning to their world?
I really enjoyed the smooth and fast paced plot, something that can affect fantasy novels is a convoluted and confusing plot, this is a book that does not at all suffer from this and that was refreshing. I did say in my mission statement for the SPFBO that I wanted something like this book and I was so glad that Nick picked it as semi finalist – it’s worthy of that honour at least.
One thing I will say is to expect the unexpected when reading, the story does twist and turn and it keeps you engaged. It does however have my favourite fantasy creature, Dragons! This was a great story of magic, honour, action, friendship, betrayal, defeat and victory and some shocking surprises.
The Knights of Dragonwatch was the last semi-finalist which I’ve read from our group. And while it wasn’t my favorite, it still provided a worthy ending of Phase 1 for me.
This is the story of Jarryd, living in a small village with his parents, being obsessed with the Knights of Dragonwatch. He dreams of becoming one and idolises them in all his life. Holding onto their Code helps him to overcome the visions he has from time to time. When one day he gets his hands on a map showing the way to his dreams it’s time to have his own journey. Along the way he makes friends and enemies. Mostly enemies though.
The Knights of Dragonwatch is pretty much your typical coming-of-age, farmboy-becomes-a-hero type of fantasy with a looming evil and really bad odds for the MC. What I liked about it is that we get enough time to acquintance ourselves with Jarryd as we watch him grow up through short(ish) sequences. I also felt for him as he prepared to leave his home. I’ve read this in a time when I was flying out of the nest myself, and while I’ve been longing for that moment for a long time, it still was hard. I also liked one of the side characters, Pythas and their banter. He definitely was a great addition.
As for chriticism, this book needs polishing. There was at least one or two holes in storytelling, where the MC asks about things he is supposed to know already. The pacing was sometimes a bit off – at times I was able to immerse myself and enjoy the ride, sometimes it felt a bit dragging, but this can come down to personal preferences. I also felt like that the ending was a bit abrupt.
Overall, The Knights of Dragonwatch is an entertaining, quick read if you are looking for a fantasy adventure with dragons and magic under 300 pages.
For more SPFBO content, please visit my SPFBO 6 Phase 1 page!