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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
With Running with the Demon, bestselling author Terry Brooks turned his remarkable skills toward a much more horrific kind of writing than he'd ever attempted. He succeeded with one of the most critically acclaimed and impressive novels in his long and enduring career. In the sequel, A Knight of the Word, Brooks proves that he's as comfortable working in a modern fantasy world with darker underpinnings as he is in the light magical high-fantasy field where he's already so well known. For anyone uncertain if he or she will like the new tack Brooks is taking, rest assured, the author continues to enthrall and fascinate.
Five years after the close of the first book, we find that John Ross is not merely a reluctant hero but has actually given up on being a knight of the word, a position of great magical power entrusted to him by the Lady. He has nightmares of a future world created by the Void, an earth full of demons and un-men that can only be avoided if John prevents certain events from occurring. On one of his missions, John failed to see a demon's influence behind a hostage crisis at a grade school, and several children were killed in the ensuing shoot-out. Racked with guilt, John now works at a homeless shelter in Seattle, and though he still carries his black runestaff, he refuses to use magic in any form, not even to check for demons in his presence. Though he still dreams of one particular event that is to take place on Halloween night, he feels that by renouncing his position he can no longer be held responsible for whatever happens,andbelieves that the Lady will simply replace him with another knight.
Nineteen-year-old Nest Freemark, another enforcer of the word, has gone on to become one of the best long-distance runners in the nation's history, and she's bound to win a gold medal in the Olympics. More important, however, she is John Ross's last hope to again take up the mantle of his knighthood. If he continues to turn his back on his power, he will be subverted by the forces of the Void, and if she cannot persuade him to accept his fate, then the Lady will have no choice but to send another agent and have him killed. And time is running out: According to John's dreams, on Halloween night — in two days — something evil will happen to Simon Lawrence, the man in charge of the shelter, and Nest knows that a demon is loose among the homeless.
The author has simplified his follow-up story, paring it down substantially from the lengthy and intricate Running with the Demon. Brooks has focused all his high-powered attention on a limited cast: John, Nest, Simon Lawrence, and O'olish Amaneh, the Sinnissippi Indian agent of the Word who may or may not be dogging John in order to assassinate him. The plot builds slowly with a greater richness of passion and fear, showing the characters' struggles over whether to save those they love or be true to a hopefully greater and more worthwhile cause. A Knight of the Word is a meditation on responsibility and consequence as well as a dark fantasy page-turner. The novel effectively captures the difficulties and frustration one must deal with when warring with evil from the Void, or from within one's own heart.
Tom Piccirilli is the author of the critically acclaimed supernatural novel Pentacle, as well as the dark suspense mysteries Shards and The Dead Past. His short fiction has appeared in many anthologies, including The Conspiracy Files and Hot Blood:Fear the Fever.