Cover art illustrated by: Chris McGrath
The Knights of Erador by Philip C. Quaintrell
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: The Echoes Saga (Book #7 of 9)
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
Pages: 608 pages (Kindle Edition)
Published: 20th March 2020 by Quaintrell Publishing (Self-Published)
Wow. The Knights of Erador is the best first installment in the three trilogies in The Echoes Saga.
I know. Not even a month has passed since I claimed Age of the King, the sixth book in The Echoes Saga, as the best book of the series so far. And, already, I have to take back my word. The Knights of Erador, the seventh book in the series, marked the beginning of the end, and it managed to top Age of the King. It is the first installment in the final story arc of the nine-book series, and yes, this is the finest book in the series so far. I can’t make any promises this statement will hold for a long time. Based on what I’ve read here, my instinct tells me the final two books in the series will be superior. But for now, I will say that I am happy and proud to call myself a Quaintrellians.
“Nobody is born evil… It festers and grows in the shadows, always hiding. Trust us, we’ve met enough tyrants to know they didn’t start out that way.”
Remember how The Fall of Neverdark, the fourth book in the series and also the first book in the second trilogy of the series, begins 15 years after the end of Relic of the Gods? Well, Quaintrell implemented a similar time jump here. The story in The Knights of Erador starts 15 years after the end of Age of the King. And in a similar style to The Fall of Neverdark, the first half of The Knights of Erador can be categorized as the calm before the storm. It is, however, much more accessible than The Fall of Neverdark, in my opinion. And more importantly, this is a much superior book compared to Rise of the Ranger and The Fall of Neverdark; both are the first installment in a trilogy of the series. Conspiracy, rebellion, betrayal. The most terrifying enemy to ever enter Illian is here, and once I reached the halfway point, I couldn’t put the book down to the end.
“The life of a king isn’t one of banquets and balls. Your every word carries weight. And your sword must bring justice wherever it goes.”
Honestly, the only reason I didn’t give The Knights of Erador a 5/5 stars rating was due to the pacing in the first half, which can feel slightly like a slog sometimes. This isn’t to say there weren’t any intriguing events in the first 300 pages. However, those who’ve read the series Age of the King will know what will happen soon in the story, and it can make readers (like me) feel impatient to see it unfold quickly. But more on that later soon. I think one of the main factors, other than Quaintrell’s improved skill as a writer, why I love this one so much more than Rise of the Ranger and The Fall of Neverdark as a new start of the series can be catered down to the characters. One of the difficulties of reading Rise of the Ranger and The Fall of Neverdark is getting used to and acclimating ourselves to the number of new characters. In The Fall of Neverdark, we were introduced to Alijah, Inara, Vighon, and The Crow. This took me a while to feel familiar with. But that is not the case with The Knights of Erador. Only one new POV character, Kassian, was introduced here, and most of the novel revolved around the main characters that appeared for the first time in The Fall of Neverdark. Only two main characters from the first trilogy played a dominant role in the narrative of The Knights of Erador, and I loved reading their POV chapters thoroughly. That’s all I can say to avoid spoilers. Please understand. This is the seventh book of the series, after all.
“Hope isn’t going to change a damn thing. You’re the only Dragorn – you need to give more than hope. You need to fight and you need to make a difference.
To continue what I said earlier regarding the second half of the novel. Those who’ve read the series up Age of the King will most likely predict who will be the main villain in The Knights of Erador and most likely the remaining of the series. And so far, the villain in The Knights of Erador and hopefully the rest of the series is the best for me. The resurgence of this character as a villain was predictable considering how Age of the King ended. But to see it unfolding and written so well was nothing short of breathtaking. All the planning, the betrayals, and seeing him becoming the main villain also signifies extensively why the series is titled The Echoes Saga. It reminded me of the first time I watched Revenge of the Sith. I knew what would happen to Anakin Skywalker. But that did not detract my excitement from seeing it happen. Plus, for readers who’ve read Solo Leveling manhwa, imagine the main character there becoming the main villain. You will know just how terrifying it is. And the combination of these two comparisons is indeed the kind of villains we’re getting in The Knights of Erador, and as I repeatedly said, hopefully, the rest of the series.
“Sacrifice without hesitation… This is what a good king must do. You can’t see it yet but that’s exactly what I’m doing.
Quaintrell genuinely amazed me The Knights of Erador. Quaintrell has mentioned several times now how he’s mostly a pantser rather than a planner type of writer. And somehow, the world-building, lore, character development, and plot progression felt like everything was planned since Rise of the Ranger. As I said earlier, the pacing in the second half of The Knights of Erador was excellent. The villain’s blind justice and self-righteous commitment to supposedly bring order to the chaos was so entertaining and immersive to read. Unlike all the previous books in the series, we did not have any POV chapter from the villain here. However, witnessing the villain’s actions through the eyes of his victims and opponents made the narrative more engaging, powerful, and emotional. With all the attempted assassinations, dragons, undead abominations, and elemental monstrosities, the second half of The Knights of Erador somehow ended up being the best section of The Echoes Saga, so far, for me. And I have no doubt this will be toppled over soon in Last of the Dragorn or the final book of the series, A Clash of Fates.
“That’s why I’m still here. That’s why I’m still fighting and bleeding. That’s the hand fate has dealt me – to endure. It also imparted me with a set of skills… So I’m going to use what I have and set things right.”
It is cliche and repetitive to say this, and I can’t make any promises I won’t repeat this again, but The Knights of Erador is the finest installment in the series so far. The exciting actions and battles felt both epic and intimate. It is surreal and awesome to witness how much Quaintrell has improved as a storyteller since Rise of the Ranger. I’ve been reading The Echoes Saga for almost the entire year of 2022, and I can’t believe I only have two books left in the series to read. I am undoubtedly looking forward to reading the next book. If the last two books in the series somehow managed to supplant The Knights of Erador as the better book, well, I think at that stage, you will be hearing me stating The Echoes Saga as one of my favorite completed series of all time for many years to come.
“A good story, dear ranger, is all that will remain. Years from now, be it centuries or millennia, your actions here will be naught but a tale.”
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