The Quest
by Pam Binder, historical/time-travel (2000)
Sonnet, $6.50, ISBN 0-671-77451-4


I must say I find The Quest a bit odd. Very little things happen in it, yet the plot demands a lot of action. Okay, maybe this isn't Highlander, but the author never plug in the inactivity with the mushy stuff that the macho genre barfs at, like deep conversations or soul-baring I love you's. So what gives?

Ana de Dannon has a problem. Her mom is held captive by the bad stepbrother Roderick. He wants Ana's sword. Thing is, Ana's sword is magical. It bestows it bearer great skills in battle, great courage, heightened awareness, et cetera - sort of like Excalibur (although if you ask me, that silly sword doesn't do much for King Arthur anyway). No way will Ana give her scum stepbro that sword, and Roderick can't wrestle it away from her. The sword, after all, needs to be given to the bearer willingly to be effective.

So they could only glare at each other, at an impasse, and show each other the finger.

But wait, Ana has a plan. She will cast a spell and bring that brave warrior Whatsisname (okay, it's Cuchulainn) to her aid. Eeenie, meenie, mainee, mo! Too bad it isn't Choochoo that she ends up summoning, but 20th century football hero Kenneth MacKinnon. Brawny muscles and all, he however can be counted on to skewer that Roddie scumbag. But first, training.

Here I thought I'd be treated to the classic apprentice-becomes-overlord story favorite of fantasy tales, and I am prepared to dig in. After all, Ana and Ken are decent, nice, courageous, and noble people. But no, nothing happens. They take their sweet time to travel to a super swordsman who can train Ken, but they never talk or do anything people attracted to each other would do.

Maybe they're just shy, I tell myself. But as the story progresses, still nothing much happens. Oh, there are the usual kidnap/treachery stuff, but nothing happens when it comes to the romance. When they finally smack their lips together, I have to go Eh? How did that come about? And it doesn't help that the whole action shebang thing takes place in a rather choppy manner with little continuity. Instead of being treated to a grand dastardly mastermind plan of Roddie, I have something more like, "Oh, Ana's man attacks her because he is sex-mad or loony or a spy or all three! Zzzzz... Oh! Kenneth realizes he can do great things on a horse. Zzzz... Someone tries to kill them and Ken saves the day! Zzz..."

The Quest lacks the thrill of an epic adventure, lacks the sizzle and chemistry of a grand romance, and is merely so-so a read. Think of it as a tale of two nice people having a nice scenic trip through Medieval Times or something.

Rating: 63


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