Archive for April 4th, 2013

Within just the opening pages, it’s easy to get hooked on Ciara Knight’s warrior fantasy romance The Curse of Gremdon. Arianna is wiping her sweat on her leather skirt, gripping a sword, and battling the manly Tardon in a test to determine if she can earn Elite Warrior status.  As they fight, Tardon’s “copper eyes” go straight to her soul, an elder stands in judgment, and a mist swirls up from the outer land beyond the castle tower.

Here in the castle life may be desperate and edged with danger, but beyond it lies a blasted landscape populated with grotesque monsters called the Cursed.  Only the amulets worn by the citizens of the castle and given to them by the elders can keep them safe – or so they and the reader think.  But when Arianna’s amulet cracks and she finds herself having strange visions, we realize that something isn’t right about “reality” within the castle.  The ruling elders are creepy, their laws are cruel, and too many relatives and loved ones have vanished or died.  What’s going on?

The twists and turns in the story come fast and hard.  There’s the violent life of the warriors, the sensuous rewards they’re given, and the outcast status of the lone female warrior Arianna.  She and Tardon have already fallen in love, but that love is forbidden and must be resisted – and as we all know trying to sexually resist the one you’re mad for can make for some steamy scenes.  Now too Arianna’s only living relative, her brother, is dying, and to save him and the castle the elders send her and Tardon on a near suicidal quest into the outer land.  But there’s something suspicious about this quest.  The outer land is also where Arianna’s sweet childhood memories haunt her and where she and the reader are in for a shocking revelation.

The romantic tension between Arianna and Tardon is palpable, yet as veterans of too many battles these two also have emotional baggage and a poignant vulnerability.  Although they long for a normal life with family and a future, these simple things seem too much to ask for after all the killing they’ve done – a message that can hit home for readers in our own modern world.  Granted, sometimes Tardon was so jealous and stubborn I wanted to slap him up the side of the head, but essentially he was a good man so I forgave him.

The Curse of Gremdon is a swashbuckling romance and adventure that gives us a memorable heroine and a story with several terrific twists.  It’s also just plain fun to read.  So read it, please.

Oh, and as a fencer (okay, only with an epee and not a big honkin’ broadsword) I can tell you that the sword-fighting scenes are solid.