The Ninth Knight isn’t quite what I expected. Rather than being a typical narrative with a five act structure, this is a collection of stories that are tied together. Each story is independent of the others, in that is it told from one character’s viewpoint, but they are linked in a broader way to expand into the world and touch on various themes of knighthood. It also felt more like historical retelling, but fits the fantasy genre since the world was fictional and there were occasional mystical creatures or ethereal elements. Once I got used to this, I rather enjoyed it.
It’s a made up world, but heavy on 14th century European terms and ideals. The writing classical style, which I tend to not enjoy, but the characters were so compelling, and the writing just so darn good that I found myself won over. There are very few grammatical errors, and the writing flows well, often straying into beautiful with its descriptions and flowery language. But it isn’t overdone, and each narrative viewpoint is distinct. The character’s voices didn’t sound the same, which I appreciated. My two favorites, Calan and Lyas, had a type of humor that was both dour and sarcastic. I laughed out loud at a few one-liners. Calan goes off to fight a dragon, and when he comes face to face with it, it demands tribute.
“Tribute?” said Calan. Somehow, he had forgotten to be afraid. “Why should anyone bring you tribute?”
Some of the story themes were a bit on the nose, but since the characters were so compelling, I wasn’t frustrated. There were some plot twists that were super obvious, but they were satisfying when they finally happened. I found myself caught up in each story, and wishing that each character had their own book.
There were a few things that I think could have been worked on. There were a couple stories that didn’t seem to fit well with the others - The Tale of the Deepening Shadow in particular was very ethereal and strange and I was a bit confused, since the other stories were more concrete with little mystical elements. I mentioned earlier that it was easy to see the plot twists before they came. The knight that each character briefly met in their story didn’t seem to serve any real purpose except to add a bit of mystery to him - since the book was titled after him, I expected him to have more of an impact.
Generally, I enjoyed this book, even though it was structured differently than I would have anticipated, and lacked a fantasy feel. If you enjoy short stories, knights (and you don’t mind trope flips) and clever characters with distinct voices, check this out.