Monday, September 19, 2011

Gypsy Knights by Rhett and Lafe Metz

Fourteen-year-old Durriken Brishen has lost his parents, his grandfather, and though he doesn't know it, his Gypsy culture's dangerous gift.

Taken in and raised on the rails by the first woman to pilot a freight train, Durriken has one remaining connection to his Romani roots: a small wooden box that hangs from the hammer loop of his overalls.

The last gift he received from his grandfather, the box contains the world's first chess set. But a piece is missing: the Red Queen. According to Durriken’s family lore, the complete set awakens the power of T─ârie, a mercurial gift that confers unique abilities on each new Master.

When a suspicious fire erupts in the Chicago rail yard, Durriken's escape produces an uneasy alliance, though not without its silver lining. Dilia is a few inches taller, several degrees cleverer, and oh yes – very pretty. While Durriken is uneasy allying with a girl whose parents were convicted of sedition, there's no doubt she is a powerful partner. And while it's not immediately clear to either, her own Guatemalan culture and family history are deeply entwined with the ancient Romani mystery.

Jumping box cars, escaping riverboats, deciphering clues, crossing swords with the brilliant madman Radu Pinch – with great American cities as its backdrop – Gypsy Knights is the page-turning saga of Durriken Brishen and his quest to rediscover his past.

Food to eat while reading: Beignet Chess Squares 

Note: I receive many requests for reviews of independent authors with e-books.  I read few of them and review almost none of them.  Because I have my own e-book up on Amazon, I know that there are great authors who are self-publishing their work and I will share any gems that I find. 

Gypsy Knights is one of those indie author gems.  

Chess, railroad, and Romani culture all play roles in making Gypsy Knights a story rich with culture and interest. 

The writing in Gypsy Knights is very well written in a flowing narrative that keeps pace with the action. It is peopled with distinct characters who all add a splash of color to the story.

Gypsy Knights reminds me of a young adult Da Vinci Code told on 1960's American soil. 

It has the fun idea of them being part of a giant, real chess game with dangerous stakes.  I know only the basics of chess and I appreciated what was being done.  Others who are masters of the game will get even more out of it than I did.  

The book rushes across America at a frenzied pace--from the tunnels under temple square in Salt Lake City, Utah to a Southern plantation in New Orleans.  The characters even end up in Romania.  All of the settings were well painted and fun places to visit in my mind. America is a character in this book, lending a very rustic and old-time feel to the story.

The emotions felt a bit shallow and underdeveloped as the story is told in a cinematic style with very little insight into the character's heads. But as I got used to the style, the lack of internal dialogue bothered me less and less.  The ebook does have a small handful of typos that were easily forgivable, especially because the story is so entertaining.  I found myself wanting to return and see what happens to Durriken and Dilia. 

Radu Pinch is a scary bad guy.  When he chases Durriken and Dilia through tunnels near the beginning, I was beginning to think they weren't going to make it.  My only beef with his character is that the authors kept switching back and forth, calling him by different names.

The banter and romance between the two characters was very appropriate and mild and there was a moderate amount of cussing.

I loved the character of Durriken and the way he changes throughout the story.  His maturity at the end of the book when facing Radu Pinch is admirable.  

Gypsy Knight is an entertaining adventure, one to add to your e-book library. 

Purchase Gypsy Knights.

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