A Knight's Vow is a collection of four romantic stories, all based on the title's theme. Four authors - Lynn Kurland, Patricia Potter, Deborah Simmons and Glynnis Campbell - each weave a tale of love and excitement. I own many short story collections - some classic, some sci-fi, some fantasy. In each case, there are stories I love and stories I'm less fond of in the collection, but the book is well worth owning because of the superb ones. The same is true here.
I want to say first that you might think it's easier to write a short story than to write a long story. The opposite is actually true. It is MUCH harder to create believable characters, get the reader engaged with them, put together an understandable plot, and resolve everything satisfactorily all in only a few words. So where an author might be excellent at a full length novel, they might have much more trouble writing a short story.
The first story is The Traveller by Lynn Kurland. This is definitely a story that seems "squished in" in short story format. The heroine is an out of work medieval researcher in New York City. She gets a letter from a friend, goes to sit on a park bench and POOF she is in medieval England. The idea that she managed in one instant to find the exact portal and the whole setup would have shone in a longer version, but here it seems forced. Her incessant hiccupping is an interesting but frustrating touch. I appreciate that the author attempts an explanation for how she can understand what they're saying. However, I'm never a fan for people who fall madly in love after looking at each other for 16 hours, so again that's a place where they story was forced to fit the guidelines. Even the end where the couple come back to modern times and the knight is obsessed with the fridge turns him into more of a "cute anomaly" rather than an intelligent, well rounded mature adult. This is definitely a story where I think it would have done well as a full length novel, but the author seems less skilled at writing a story perfectly suited for the short story format.
The second story is The Minstrel by Patricia Potter. This is a fairly typical story - knight pretends to be commoner, lady pretends to be commoner, and they fall in love with each other without the issues of greed and conniving they usually have to deal with. I do like the idea that people who are cynical about love can find their hearts opening up and able to trust. The problem is that the whole story *is* predictable. You even know the exact timeframe of how the romance will run out, thanks to a schedule set by the father. So then it's just a matter of waiting for the story to plod through. For several reasons I felt less than connected with both the hero and heroine.
The third story is The Bachelor Knight by Deborah Simmons. Every collection has to have its worst story, and this is the one here. A knight begins life as a poor waif and is taken in by a local lord. He falls in love with the lord's daughter - and she with him - but once he goes off into the real world he never returns to her. When the lord dies, she calls him back and forces him to marry her as part of a vow he's sworn. They both love each other, but both are full of pride and hurt from the separation and have to wear down their walls. Much of this story seems extremely forced, and the characters seem to act quite unnaturally. I actually found the main heroine character to be annoying and poorly developed. The annoyance level was high enough that I had to force myself to finish the story. That's pretty rare for me.
The final story is The Siege by Glynnis Campbell. This is by far the best story in this book for many reasons. First, it is EXCEPTIONAL as a well done short story, regardless of what genre you enjoy. There is superb character development, the storyline *naturally* fits into the time frame provided, and you get the full range of the story - the start, middle and end. This is definitely a story that "works" in the short story environment. Next, the characters are well drawn and quite believable. Where in other stories here the characters are a bit two dimensional in order to fit into the short format, here Glynnis has been able to describe and bring to life two individuals who have full personalities. They have flaws and strengths and backgrounds. You really believe that these characters are real people who would talk and act like this. Finally, the connection that grows between the characters is quite powerful and well done. He is a knight who is feared by the locals - she is the maid he has been forced to get engaged to by the King. They are trapped in a pitch dark, collapsed cave. The way they slowly learn to trust each other, and face their entrapment and potential death - is quite powerful. This is the type of story you can read over again several times and really relish the dialogue and the descriptions. Highly recommended.
It's always interesting to me how people enjoy different types of stories. One person can adore a simmering regency romance, while another person would rather read a swashbuckling Scottish romp. Whatever *styles* you enjoy, I think we can all agree that a well done, believable dialogue and character development is what makes any time frame story sing. I think what's great about a short story collection is that it exposes you to writers and time frames you might normally never read about, to learn about the authors who populate that world. I hope that this series exposes readers to Glynnis Campbell who might not normally have read her works, so they seek her out. There are some authors who can make any time period, and any environment, enjoyable and immersive. This is definitely the case here. Enjoy!
- Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Jove Pubns (1 September 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0515131512
- ISBN-13: 978-0515131512
- Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 1.9 x 17.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 159 g
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