I have just recently gotten to know Rebekah Dodson online, and I offered to review this one because the third book in her series, Magic, has just come out, and I wanted to support her. But this turned out to be an excellent decision! I really enjoyed this book!
The Curse of Lanval is a historical fantasy centered around time travel. The protagonist, Gill, is a new adult in his freshman year at college, studying history and bucking for an arts degree. This is a terrible betrayal to his family, who are all in the medical field. Gill himself was an EMT before this radical career change. I think that younger adults will find the character extremely relatable. He has a snarky sense of humour that makes the story especially fun to read. He’s a bit of a cad, but don’t let that deter you; I think that might be part of his character arc. *does not count as spoiler because I haven’t read ahead yet, I’m just guessing.*
Dodson has a history degree and a penchant for medieval history, and it shows. When Gill finds himself in medieval France, you can see, hear, taste and smell the setting. It has a very A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court sort of feel to it, except with more action. Even though Gill (fortunately) is relatively educated about the realities of the Middle Ages, he’s still very much a fish out of water, trying to make sense of it all, and his reactions sound to me like exactly what a modern person confronted with this scenario would say and think! I love it! I found myself laughing out loud frequently.
As a former member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, I cannot praise Dodson’s accuracy highly enough! For example: just because he speaks French fluently, does not mean that Gill instantly understands medieval French! The language has drifted considerably (though not as much as English) and he finds himself resorting to pantomime to communicate because the difference is enough that each side probably only understands about every third word. He regards the typical building construction as “childish” before he realizes what’s going on and cannot bring himself to drink the horribly brackish, literally tinny, (and probably dysentery-infested) water that is the norm of the time. There’s lots more, but I don’t want to give anything away. The setting lives and breathes and I believe it, and I believe Gill. I think it adds to the dramatic tension because it allows you to understand the stakes: Gill is a modern person stuck in the Middle Ages, and this is George R.R. Martin‘s grimy, dangerous, realistic Middle Ages. How’s he going to survive? I strongly recommend it to any medievalists out there who are looking for a quality historical fantasy.
Traditional publishers may not have published these three books as separate novels, even though they are each full-length novels (though on the smaller side). If I have one complaint about the book, it’s that it seems to end just as it feels to me like the story is really getting going! And once it does, it’s a real page-turner too.
But the second book is available and I’m going to pick it up. Then again, I’m used to reading fat paperweights by people like David Weber. I understand that shorter fiction does better on Kindle, so when Kindle readers are your target audience, it makes sense to publish these as three separate books. And you really can’t argue with the price! All three Kindle books together cost a little more than half the price my publishers set for my e-book of The Witch’s Eight Paths of Power: A Complete Course in Magick and Witchcraft.
I’m really looking forward to book 2, Marie. I’m excited about it! I will keep you posted.