I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I didn’t know what to expect walking into this debut novel until the author told me to think of Star Wars with Luke being the chosen one but the story being told through Obi-Wan’s perspective. With that being said, this is the only similarity to Star Wars this book contains. The Lightning Knight is a classical fantasy story with some typical fantasy troupes we have seen over the years such as: knights, elves, tournaments, and noble families. What makes this story stand out to me is the character comradery as well as how they interact with each other. The story will take you down a path and you feel certain you know what the outcome will be, but then Sean will pull the rug out from underneath you and you won’t know which way is up. I was pleasantly surprised upon completion and I look forward to seeing what Sean Valiente has in store for future novels.
The story is told through the eyes of Oliver Quartermaine and he is not your typical Obi-Wan. Born into a noble family with a photographic memory when it comes to his studies for becoming a knight. Oliver is also your typical sixteen year old as he puts his foot in his mouth several times throughout the novel, especially around girls. Magic this world is said to have only existed in fairytales, but when Oliver is confronted by one of his teachers, his whole world is turned upside down. It turns out that magic is real and the Queen had magic banished from the realm and all of its users put to death. Oliver comes to discover that he must find a boy named Po, as he is destined to save the world and reignite the spark of magic within it. To do this, Po must become the legendary Lightning Knight and Oliver is tasked with training him. Quite a task for a sixteen year old who just wants to court the girl of his dreams and stay out of trouble. Trouble eventually finds Oliver in the form of a secret group known as the spider’s web and their goal is to restore magic for themselves and obtain power over the realm.
This may seem like a lot to unpack, but the plot is very well fleshed out and I never once felt lost in Sean Valiente’s world. The Lightning Knight is a slow-burn of a novel with flashes of great combat, tournaments, training sessions, and secret missions. I will say that I did have a negative while I was reading the first half of the novel. Part 1 was very slow at times and it seems like it took a while for the plot to really get going. After reading the entire novel, I realize that this was done to build the characters, tensions, and for the reader to get a feel for the stakes that are up for grabs. Once I got to part 2, the story really takes off and you will not be able to guess where the story is going to go. No spoilers, but the last few chapters completely blindsided me and the story goes in a completely different direction then what I expected to happen and it was a joy to read.
Sean Valiente does a great job of building the lore and history of the world ever so slowly throughout his first novel and I feel there is still so much more to unravel. I also enjoyed the scenes where we got to enter Oliver’s mind palace and see how he stores all the information about the hundreds of books he has read over the years. We also get to experience flashback scenes for Oliver to understand the boy he was and the man he has to be. His story is not set in stone and it will take everything he has to protect Po and restore magic to the realm.
Congratulations Sean Valiente on your debut novel. Can’t wait to see what you have in store!