In this YA fantasy debut, an average kid begins secret training with the Knights of the Light to battle the Dark.
Thirteen-year-old Danny Firoth has just started eighth grade. Over the summer, he and his friends—Chris, Matt, and Alonso—began playing the fantasy card game Knights, which pits “the forces of good, neutral, and evil against one another.” The lovely Sabrina Drake, the school’s newest student, also happens to enjoy the game. Danny forms an instant crush on her, and they become lab partners in science class. But Danny’s life isn’t perfect, which bully Steven Rooney proves by challenging him to fight. During the fight, however, Danny sees his opponent’s moves in ghostly silhouette—before they happen. His world gets even stranger when he encounters a dragon battling a shadow creature in the school after-hours. Sabrina soon reveals to him that the card game Knights represents a real-world struggle, and he has the gift of sight. Danny is tested by Sir Syndil Sartak Tribolari (an Elvin Knight of the Light) and invited to join the White Rock Academy of Illumination. He and several friends (who also have the sight) enroll as squires and train to become Knights who battle the Shadows. Recruitment to the Knights has risen to thwart the Dark’s growing power. Debut author Fife takes the familiar concept of light versus dark (as well as elves, dragons, and dwarves) and applies bumper-to-bumper polish. Though his main characters are eighth-graders, Fife’s robust, psychologically nuanced prose may appeal more to older teens; the egotistical Alonso frequently responds to difficult situations by saying, “Whatever,” and Matt, who learns to distrust the Elves, flirts with the path between Light and Dark. Danny’s “Ghostsight” and Fife’s concept of the Bonded (swords empowered by the essences of departed Knights) are fascinating; these touches help turn a clever mystery into a propulsive series opener.
A new series that fans of smart, action-oriented fantasy can’t miss.