Friday, June 22, 2007

Sword of Darkness, by Kinley MacGregor [1]

*/***** (1/5)

SWORD OF DARKNESS is so bad, it will make your head ache. I enjoyed MacGregor's light romantic flavor in DARK CHAMPION, but SWORD OF DARKNESS spouted garbage, a veritable hodgepodge of idiocy and cheeze. There's cheezy, and then there's cheezy. SWORD OF DARKNESS qualifies in the later category, it's that bad. Part magical fantasy, part Arthurian medieval history, part romance, part time travel, part vampire-like blood sucking, part comedy (or attempted comedy), SWORD OF DARKNESS' miserable efforts at satirical humor fail abysmally. How this novel was published, and how I actually read it, I'll never know. My plea to the author: please, for the love of god, quit the attempts at humor. Like most romance novels, there's little action in this novel, even the romance consists little more than pages of incoherent soliloquies from the hero thinking about the heroine or vice-versa. Mostly boring introspection from the hero Kerrigan's perspective though, since this book also plays out the obligatory Saving-the-Hero's-Tortured-Soul routine. Would it be a romance novel without it?

The Story, possible SPOILERS.

The story begins with a guild rejecting Seren of York's exquisite cloth as a token for acceptance into their guild. She's a peasant and labored over the cloth, often starving herself for the requisite material and bearing calloused fingers as proof of her diligence. The book painstakingly notes Seren's ordinary and under-average look at every turn. She has pale skin, paltry, diminutive breasts, fading blond hair and very ordinary face.

When Knights of Avalon arrive to protect Seren and the future unborn Penmerlin she will carry (the most powerful being of magic), she flees, believing them mad. She runs into the evil Kerrigan who offers to rescue her from the good knights of Avalon.

Our extremely handsome hero Kerrigan has had his fill of beautiful women and now finds himself drawn to Seren's virgin mediocrity (predictably). Kerrigan is the prince of darkness, dark hair, black eyes and ice-cold skin. He's supposed to be "King" of Camelot but he's little more than an evil woman's (Morgen's) figurehead. He carries Caliburn, a sword of darkness which grants Kerrigan all of his power.

There's plenty of black-and-white in MacGregor's less-than-adequate worldbuilding. Camelot, eternally dark, is the antithesis to a bright Avalon. Just as the evil bitch Morgen rules her domain in Camelot, so too does the good woman Merlin rule her domain in Avalon. The dark sword Caliburn is the opposite of Excalibur. Etc., etc., etc. Magic and beings of magic are employed liberally. Beings teleport to different locations and to different time periods (flashing), blasts of lightning and explosions are common, there's magical shields, there's gargoyles, mandrakes (man-changing-dragons), Adoni (elf-like creatures), ugly Adoni, knights, and powerful women wizards. It's as though Kinley MacGregor made a witch stew of everything she could possibly think of.

Kerrigan wisks Seren away to Camelot and to Morgen's domain, hoping to acquire a powerful magical artifact the round table in exchange for Seren. Seren has already divulged why the knights of Avalon wished to protect her (because she's to carry the next Penmerlin). Seren moons over Kerrigan's handsome face at every turn while "challenging" him with fearless words. Kerrigan is intrigued by Seren's audacity despite her average-to-bad looks. Any of this sounding familiar?

In case you're dying to know how the rest plays out...

Kerrigan and Morgen fight over Seren, Kerrigan takes Seren to Lancelot's old castle, Lancelot's ghost attempts to seduce Seren, Morgen attacks with an army of gargoyles, Kerrigan puts up a powerful shield, Kerrigan and Morgen share a night of passion, Kerrigan weakens from maintaining the shield, Kerrigan & Seren "flash" to a more modern time period in order to escape Morgen, Kerrigan gives up his sword and hence relinquishes his powers, Kerrigan sends Soren to Avalon to protect Seren and their unborn child, Morgen captures and tortures Kerrigan, and Seren arrives to save Kerrigan. All in all, a very amateur, poor fare, not the least bit bearable at the end.

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