The battle of good versus evil forms the crux of Hassan’s action-packed, fantastical tale of knights, a powerful king and a divine boy.
Utilizing elemental powers, potent swords and keen knowledge, the knights of the One Land are nothing if not courageous. As they battle one another over control of the land at the novel’s energetic outset, most are acutely aware of the death awaiting them should they succumb to their adversary. As if death were not enough, also at stake is the fate of the One Land itself. Each knight holds ownership over—and a form of telepathic kinship with—those who dwell on his home soil. As one knight falls in grisly battle, that telepathic tie transfers to the knight who slew him. The stakes are soon raised as heavenly forces flock to Earth, matched by the arrival of monstrous demons, all bent on waging a war of gods in the land of man. At times the novel reads like an enchanted edition of Sports Illustrated magazine, albeit one published in the realm of J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythical kingdom of Gondor. Hassan’s novel is smartly crafted, similar in respects to the fantasy novels of Elizabeth Haydon, particularly in scenes of combat. Many of the battles, however, follow so closely on the heels of the one before it that readers may confuse who is fighting whom, and with what alchemic, metaphysical powers. Those with children may be reminded of Pokemon cards and Yu-Gi-Oh! battles, but with an engaging intellectual, medieval twist. Despite well-written scenes of flashy combat, the novel’s flat characters do little to enhance the tale. The majority of the inhabitants of the One Land seem content to let their king, or the knights who rule them, control their existence without batting an eye in protest.
Hassan’s aggressive morality tale marries mortal combat with heavenly and demonic influences, but fuller characters would’ve added resonance to the adventure.