Amaria Eversvale, known as The Knight of the Dove for her unusual, ivory-colored hair, is a peerless and respected warrior; but her physical prowess belies her inner turmoil. After calling upon evil gods for the power to avenge her husband by slaughtering an entire fortress, she goes into self-imposed exile, wandering for months until she at least reaches Valgamin, the last city before the mountain range known as Urak’s Edge/The World’s Edge. There, she finds herself drawn into a secret conflict between the priesthoods of two evil gods, each striving for control of the city, and by entering their conflict and setting herself against both, she hunts for her ever-elusive redemption.
Knight of the Dove, the second published novel by William A. Kooiker (Koy-Ker), is an old-school, sword-against-sorcery adventure clearly influenced by the works of Michael Moorcock and David Gemmel. (Amaria also appears to be a temperamental descendant of C.L. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry.) Amaria is an almost-invincible combatant, and early in the tale (in a tavern), she happens upon an exotic adventuring partner in Ornan the Radamite, who comes to serve as her faithful confidante and counselor. (Their platonic friendship is one of the better features of the tale.) Good and evil are clearly defined, and the story is completed within the book, though further deeds of Amaria are all but promised.
Unfortunately, what would otherwise be a standard journey for fans of pulp fantasy is constantly sabotaged by a host of misspellings, grammatical errors, clichéd expressions, and odd or obscure word choices (e.g., the same guide is at different times described as ligular, lissom, and “squirrelly”) — probably more than in any other published novel I’ve read. (The publisher, Kerlak, is apparently small, but it should hire or fire a copy editor.) To pick a few [corrections in brackets]:
- the table of contents calls the mountain range “Aruk’s Edge” [Urak’s]
- “It would make his death easier on her already tormented conscious [conscience].”
- “My design?” Amaria fired back. “What abstruse nonesense [nonsense] do you throw at me?”
- “For all we know, his corpse is rotting away in some hidden ally [alley].”
- “[T]wenty-one men crammed their bodies tight like sardines, finding temporary refuge from winter’s wrath… ‘It’s colder than a witch’s tit!’ one of the soldiers griped. ‘What do we do?’ The woman sat with her knees up against her breasts, unmoving. ‘Unless you want to die as an ice sickle [icicle], I suggest you wait with the rest of us… ‘”
In sum, while it’s not in the sub-class of The Eye of Argon (featuring that poor wench with “the lithe, opaque nose”), Knight of the Dove is a three-star story in a one-star publication, and I can only recommend it for fans of old-school sword-and-sorcery who are willing to overlook errors such as those listed above. Two stars.