Book Review: The Lightning Knight by Sean Valiente

Most epic fantasies that I have read have the main character as our hero. This makes perfect sense; after all, if we’re going to follow a character around for several hundred pages, we might as well follow the hero, right? But what if we weren’t following the hero? What if we were following the person meant to find and train the hero? Sean Valiente’s The Lightning Knight does just that, but in a way that was entirely unexpected.

1. Thoughts on the plot

Epic fantasies are typically done on a grand scale. This book is no exception, though the grand scale this time takes place with the number of plot points, as well as the effect on the world. Oliver Quartermain is a rich noble who has no worries in life. He is well versed in fighting and has very few worries in life. When he is tasked with finding and saving magic, focused on the boy Po, who is the key to it all, Oliver finally has something greater than himself to worry about. And he’s not entirely sure he’s prepared for it.

This book is very intricate in the number of details it goes through to move the story along. This is not at all bad. Most of this is very entertaining. Everything builds on itself, growing organically and becoming the larger story that we need. However, at around 80% of the way through the novel, the details falter a little bit. There are plot points that are left to fester, becoming holes that are not explained in favour of the larger story. Granted, these holes are really quite small, and—as far as I can tell—have no real bearing on the overall plot, but I did notice them. For a book that was so entertaining up to that point, I was a little disappointed.

2. Thoughts on the characters

At first, I didn’t like Oliver Quartermain. He was arrogant enough to be annoying, seemed to deal with affection in such a way that precluded the use of communication skills, and did not seem to have a care in the world. As it turns out, he gets much, much more entertaining. The introduction of some struggle into his life is just what this character needed to become a character with depth and intrigue, someone a reader could really root for. I really like Oliver (after about the first 7% of the book) and found him even more interesting as the story goes on. By the end, I think he was at just the right point to be absolutely fascinating. 

The other characters didn’t develop nearly as much as Oliver. Though they were side-characters, and this is understandable, we did see them a lot and I was hoping that they would show some of the same depth. However, it didn’t really detract from the story for me at all, and I did like Oliver.

3. Favourite part

The ending. I think that ending was the perfect solution to the story and it was a great twist on the premise. Can’t go into details because of spoilers, but I really liked the ending.

4. Critique

The biggest critique I have is the point mentioned above in section 1, regarding those plot points that just sort of fizzled out. Without going into detail, I would say that the Professor, Ridhan and Oliver’s relationship, and Roc and Iris’s situation at the end are the main ones. They either appear out of nowhere, or are never fully explained. These are fairly minor, but significant enough to be noticed. I didn’t miss any of the overarching plot, and nothing felt as though it was a glaring hole, but they did leave questions unanswered.

Overall, I think The Lightnight Knight was an interesting twist on the hero’s journey, with Oliver training the hero instead of featuring as one. I like the premise and I found the characters very interesting. A good book.