The Benighted (The Benighted Saga #1) by A.M. Dunnewin
The book blurb;
‘ The King was dead.
His body was found slain in his room, only months after his son had been brutally murdered. Skylar Mandolyn, his daughter, has now become the last heir to inherit the throne. But instead of becoming Queen, she has been imprisoned for helping in the escape of Sir Harlin Brien, her knight who was framed for the King’s murder.
Confined to darkness, Skylar’s captors have given her no choice but to yield to a new kind of enemy: a kingdom that has advanced in both technology and warfare. It’s when she refuses that the prison uses its other means of persuasion, and although unmerciful, the whip lashings and isolation can’t suppress the memories of her family’s downfall. Pulled between her subconscious and reality, Skylar already knows who the true enemy is, because even the darkness can’t hide the deceptive hands that have destroyed them all.
With two kingdoms on the brink of war, Skylar’s only hope is in the person who has gone missing — Harlin, the knight who was sworn to protect her. The memory of him surrounds her when the darkness screams louder than the prisoners, and when Death smiles a faceless grin in between the cracks of the stone. While the tremors start to rise from the deep, crawling up through the prison’s walls, Skylar doesn’t realize that she will soon see why he’s one of the Benighted.
The mystery was never how Harlin escaped. It’s how he’ll return.’
This novel tells the story of Skylar Mandolyn (great name) the first female heir to the throne and suddenly in the position of being first in line due to the murder of her brother. Skylar is assigned a knight – Sir Harlin Brien – whose sole duty is to protect her and ensure her safety.
So, first of all, there were a few practical things that annoyed me with this book; the spelling and grammar needs to be revised, there are mistakes throughout the novel and this did irk me when I came across them. Aside from this issue however, I really enjoyed the book.
The main character, Skylar, is one who is in constant torment throughout the book and from whose view we see the events unfold. She is in captivity throughout the novel and we see the preceding events during flashbacks that are brought on by her fear and as a result of her torture in prison. This worked really well for me and the flashbacks were done in a way that was relevant to the timeline, I was always interested in these events and the chronology of the novel.
My favourite characters is Sir Harlin Brien, he’s mysterious, he’s hard as nails and he is a man of immediate action. We learn that his training is of the most elite and I love a warrior with a heart. The only downside is that there weren’t more action scenes with him involved!
The world itself is only briefly alluded to and what you do see is great! It is almost as if there are two countries on a Risk game board; one is technologically advanced, the other is not and you’re rooting for the underdog (obviously!). I hope that in the following novels within the Benighted Saga, this world is fleshed out more and is given a lot more description as it is seriously interesting.
The writing in the novel is fantastic, the pace rarely drops and the style is fluid, there are no clunky interactions or unnecessary descriptions. I read this book super-fast and was allowed to by the author’s fine writing style.
I really enjoyed this book, the main characters are given enough time to make a real impression on the reader and are given interesting storylines. The action is described well and the climax in the book is built up excellently, with a great, explosive finish (that sounds dirty, no pun intended).
A ‘magical’ element is alluded to through the tangible nature of death – a shadow that you can see lurking around those close to dying. It would be great to see this play a larger role within future books in this saga which I will definitely be reading and am looking forward to!
I think that fantasy readers will really enjoy this book, there isn’t just a spoiled princess at the middle of this; there is a hard-ass character in the middle of a grim situation and the darkness within the book really elevates it. There are some clichés, for example, love-matches that you can see coming a mile off, however, this doesn’t detract from the quality within the novel.