In this debut novel, a brave knight faces betrayal in medieval Ireland.
Daniel is a knight and one of the most intimidating men to don armor in 14th-century Ireland. He is a fighter of great skill and the sworn protector both of his home village and his dear love, Cassandra. But he has also promised to protect the realm, so when word arrives from the king that able-bodied warriors must speed to Galway to defend the land from marauding Viking hordes, Daniel saddles his trusty black horse, Macha; whistles for his valiant brown dog, Balor; and rushes off to fight for the kingdom. Yet when he arrives at Galway, Daniel learns that he has been duped. Village life hums along smoothly, and there’s not a barbarian in sight from shore to horizon. Racing back to his hometown, he finds his cottage a smoking wreck and his beloved disappeared. He soon vows: “She is gone, but I will right this injustice. I will seek out those who have done this.” And as the story unfolds, every time he feels he’s getting closer to solving the enigma of the fire, the plot thickens and the mystery grows. This gripping tale is a model of economy and thrift. O’Doherty has trimmed all the fat and gristle, and what remains is a satisfying, speedy read that weighs in at just under 170 pages. Yet the author never sacrifices depth or detail, adding distinctive flourishes. He makes the most of his slim volume, building a realistic historical simulacrum of the Emerald Isle. O’Doherty’s style is only marred by one tiny tic that shows up just frequently enough to be distracting: He has a tendency to repeat himself. Thus, he tells readers at the outset that Daniel’s dog, Balor, “matched the speed and endurance” of his horse and that “the three had often traveled from encampment to battlefield over the years.” Then, several pages later, he writes of his horse’s “extraordinary speed and endurance, which could be matched by Balor. The three had often traveled in this manner from encampment to battlefield over the years.” But such oversights likely speak to O’Doherty’s lack of a strong editor.
A quick, bracing tale of chivalry.