Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Three knights, each bearing the Knightsgift that gives them power and life, ride to the aid of a small village where people are disappearing in the forest. One knight seeks the aid of a herbalist, a sharp-witted, strong-willed woman, who can tell him what the Sheriff will not…
Knightsgift is the first story I’ve read by J. Hepburn but based on the characters, themes, and worldbuilding I found within this tale, it certainly won’t be the last. In fact, I’m hope that the author is considering making this the first in a series about the Knights here, the Healer, and the backstory into the training they all undergo when the Knightsgift comes to each of them.
The Knights here are already battle-hardened experienced Knights, years away from the time the Gift came to them. These three Knights seem to travel together often on missions for the King, so their friendship and ease with each other speaks of a deep kinship.
The Knights are Heskan, Tahis and Donaar, and Tahis is the Knight we get to know the most intimately of the three. Donaar, the fierce, indomitable female knight is second leaving Heskan the one with the least storytime. Their mission is to solve who or what is behind the disappearances/murders of villagers in Sweetwater.
However, things are rarely simple and the state of Sweetwater itself is murky and needs further investigation.
I loved these Knights, the Herbalist Tala, and most of the “lowly” villagers of Sweetwater. Hepburn came up with great characters, lively, believable, some endowed with a magic that flows from them, and an entire village of people depending on each other to get by because they knew help was not coming from the “upper echelons” in town and rules set down to see to their safety. The author was able to show the emotional cost and close knit relationships of all the people of the village to each other in a short story. I believed in them all.
There’s several elements here, important ones I hesitate to mention. One is about the nature of Tahis and how that Knight perceives themselves. I just love how this is done, it feels natural, and the potential for a relationship with Tala is just one more reason I would love to see this story become the first in a series. The second is the Knightsgift itself. There are some astonishing revelations that the author unfolds later in the story that cry out for more backhistory and more exposition. Again, more stories please.
Finally, there’s the reason behind the missing villagers….I needed a little more, not much because some of that was outstanding, grant you. But why there? This story came so close to a 5 star tale for me….
Knightsgift by J. Hepburn is a story that still intrigues me. My mind is still jumping to all these places the author has led it to with their incredible imagination, great characters and wonderful plot. If you’re looking for heat and hot sex, this is not the book for you. But if you’re looking for a wonderful fantasy with LGBTQIA characters, a possible romance in the future, and, hopefully more to come? This is the story for you.
Cover art: Kirby Crow. Cover is simple and elegant. I liked it.
Published January 3rd 2018 by Less Than Three Press