Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The White Knight by Josh Lanyon

TITLE: The White Knight
AUTHOR: Josh Lanyon
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 34k)
GENRE: Gay contemporary erotic romance
COST: $4.99

While filming in Wales, actor Sean Fairchild takes a fall and ends up in the hospital, concussed and without any memory of what happened. He asks for his boyfriend, but Dan’s arrival introduces a whole new set of puzzles for Sean to fathom out. The tale unfolds, both of the story of how they met as well as why Sean was put in the hospital in the first place – his fall might not necessarily have been an accident…

The White Knight is the sequel to Lanyon’s novella, The Dark Horse, but I find myself debating whether or not it’s better to have read the first prior to picking this one up. The way this novella is structured and presented, it works as both a prequel and a sequel, filling in the backstory for Sean and Dan that was only hinted at or simply sketched in before, as well as providing an explanation of what happened to them afterward. It does so by experimenting a bit with perspectives. For much of the book, each chapter is split into three sections – a present day in 1st person, a past in 3rd, and then a past in 1st. It takes a little bit to get used to the unusual structure, but it becomes easy to follow soon enough. Even better, it lends an urgency to everything Sean is going through in the present.

The fact that a lot of this backstory gets fleshed out is part of why I’m uncertain whether or not reading the previous story improves this one. On one hand, it helps to round out the characters, having read them before. On the other, much of the backstory ends up feeling redundant. Because I know the outcome, and know enough about what happened, it never really feels like there’s much of anything new in these sections, and thus, they never sparkle as much as the present day material does. I honestly don’t know if that would be the case for someone learning/experiencing it for the first time. All I know is that I wasn’t nearly as involved with the story of how they met as I was with what the hell had happened to them in the interim. The fact that things seemed less than rosy, almost from the start, filled me with dread, and I devoured it all, hoping to find satisfactory answers swiftly.

Even with so much of the story about Sean, about his stalker and his struggle to remember everything that has happened, Dan is the one who comes off as the more sympathetic of the pair. Part of that is due to the fact that much of what we see of him is through Sean’s eyes, and he clearly idolizes and adores the man. He ends up bearing a lot of the responsibility about what has happened, and whether it’s merited or not, I found myself blaming him, too. That colored my liking of the character, though only a shade. I cared enough to race through to the end and find out exactly what was going on. I just hoped a little bit harder that Dan got what he wanted, too.

So does this work better as a standalone? I’m not sure. I do know that the experimental POVs made it a more intriguing read, and likely kept my interest in the flashbacks more than it might have been. I also really loved how the present day events unfolded, in sharp, realistic detail. Sean might not have been as sympathetic this time around, but the tale of their romance is. That, alone, made it worth it.


9/10 – The experimental POVs take a chapter or two to get used to, but the pay-off in the end is worth it.

Hero #1

7/10 – As before, his status as an unreliable narrator is irrefutable, but it’s not quite as sympathetic this time around

Hero #2

8/10 – Still solid and charming, even with so much of the story about Sean

Entertainment value

7/10 – A lot of the flashbacks actually felt a tad redundant, but the present day stuff was superb

World building

8/10 – Some crisp detailing that brings both settings to life



1 comment:

Josh Lanyon said...

HA. Funny to see this today as I was blogging over at Loose Id as to whether authors should comment or not on reviews. *g*

Anyway, thanks for this. I honestly don't know myself whether it should be read first or second. It does *spoil* the mystery of the first book, but it also fills in a lot of blanks for those who wanted to know the details of how Sean and Dan got together.

I see it as an entertaining exploration of character and romance for myself, and a sort of indulging my readers and fans of these characters. It was a difficult scenario to pull off -- writing it just as a prequel would never have worked, but this was the main request!

So it was a very delicate balancing act, and from a technical standpoint, I think it's probably one of the best things I did this year.

Probably more than you wanted to know! *g*