The Reluctant Knight
by Doug Glener
Publication Date: Jan 15th 2013
Publisher: Paladin Publishing
Find This Book: The Reluctant Knight
This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.
My overall impression of this book was that it was quirky and new. The concept really had a lot of potential. The book is about ninth grader Percival Adler and his adventure in the course of a week. He gets bullied by Huey, Dewey, and Louie, but the author never really says anything about them. Someone just tells them that it’s pathetic to pick on a freshman, implying that the bullies are older I suppose. The book seems a bit underdelevoped as a whole that I’ll get into later, but it also showed great potential.
It starts off with Percival running into the woods behind the school to escape his torturers where he comes across a door, which of course he goes through. These scene immediately reminded me of The Chronicles of Narnia when Eustace and Jill run through a strange door into Narnia in their attempt to escape bullies. Maybe that scene was inspiration? Or just a really suspicious coincidence... I hope it's a tribute because I enjoyed that parallelism.
Through the door, Percival meets Lord Arwain and his 7 knights. The knights each knelt before a reflecting pool and whispered words of hope to people. They’re basically all the angel of the conscience (you know, the stereotypical angel/devil on the shoulder?). On the other side of the coin is Raeben and his 7 followers. They each sat next to a pool of polluted water and encourage people to do bad things. In my comparison they are clearly the devil on one’s shoulder.
Percival, with the help of his two friends Chaz and Dillon, his older sister Guinevere, and a badass samurai (named Tesshu) must stop Raeban’s goonies from the dead and his plan to destroy… well the tri-state area really, though he’ll probably expand his vision eventually. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because pretty much everything is a spoiler, but I do want to say that I thought the historical figures and weapons were researched well enough. The characters were satisfactorily described (though I’m pretty sure Tesshu’s sword was never specified which was odd considering the author wrote the specific clothes that Tesshu was wearing. So I just assumed a Katana?) Anyways, King Alfred, Raeban’s minions and the myth of Raeban’s old home was really well gone and extremely enjoyable. The plot itself was absolutely great but the writing could have been more developed, which I hope will improve in the future :)
There were cons to the book though. As mentioned above, the main characters didn’t really develop. Sure they learn to band together and Guinevere actually stands up for her brother, but they seemed very flat and unrealistic. How are things really supposed to go back to normal after a week adventure like that? And Guys/her phone can't seriously be the most important things to Guinevere, what kind of girl is she?? The kids just seemed pretty 2-demensional and forgettable when could have been so much more. The fact that Percival’s parents just happen to take him out of school for the week but don’t confront the school about his bullies- Not very realistic. On top of that these “high schoolers” acted extremely childish and came across to me as elementary students at the oldest. Even the cover makes Percival look like a 5th grader. I mean, I know guys were immature in school, but no one was THAT bad in high school. The way their age group acts doesn't seem realistic at all.
Just one more thing that really ticked me off, the fact that Percival daydreamed about vanquishing the bullies to win the affections of the prettiest girl in class. She doesn’y even come back into the book, so it’s not even that big of a deal, but why “prettiest”? That’s demeaning! She couldn’t have been the funniest? Smartest? Anything that has to do with personality or talent instead of something you can’t control like looks? I mean, the whole point of THIS BOOK was that Percival wasn’t the hero type and certainly didn’t look like a hero yet he gets his adventure to prove himself. Yet he’s shallow enough to think like this about others?
In summary though, I enjoyed this books plot and the concept was just great. Obviously I nit-picked at this a lot but these little things honestly bugged me almost the entire book. However, the Pros definitely outweighed the Cons and I hope to see more in the future from Doug Glener.