by Margaret Moore, historical (2001)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81336-X
The Maiden And The Knight is irritating. I don't know which is more irritating: the two main characters racing to see who is the bigger martyr (and letting everybody knows it), the silly and predictable plot, or the plot contrivances.
Lady Allis of Montclair, the usual besieged damsel who has been running the estate for Daddy, is stressed out. The evil other man, one Rennick DeFrouchette, wants her and her home, and that she will not allow. Her solution? Throw a tournament. Don't ask. I don't really understand why either, to be honest, but hey, at this point I'm willing to go with anything.
Sir Connor of Llanespan is stressed too. He went to the Crusades, an act which caused his home to be heavily in debt. He has been dismissed from service by King Richard for not being diplomatic enough, and now he roams the lands fighting in tournaments to appease his guilt and win back some moolah to rebuild his home.
The long-suffering maiden and the long-suffering knight meet at the tournament, and before you can say "Hail Caesar!" Connor is injured and Allis is tenderly pressing a moist cloth to his forehead while trying not to peek at his privates. Yawn. Rennick conveniently murders a squire and has to go away, which leaves Allis and her man free to play in the cabins or something.
What follows is a long, long battle of wills as to who will suffer more, and gladly, Allis or Connor. Both are so quick to walk away or suffer as the only solution to their problems that it is disgusting. And worse, these two keep complimenting each other about how noble, how self-sacrificing, how virtuous, et nauseous cetera the other is. Give me a break, people. These people make a fetish out of bearing responsibilities.
The plot isn't much to scream about either: predictable plot twists, unpredictable plot twists that unfortunately also don't make much sense, a hammy villain, and inconsistent character developments all just add up to a significant misfire of a story. The Maiden And The Knight just don't feel right.
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