Wednesday, March 18, 2015
The Ugly Knight, By Elizabeth A. Lightfoot
This is such a pleasant, pleasant book! There is a lightness in the way it is written, that even in the scenes where Korton (The Ugly Knight) and Elzi (his resolute love interest) face the Ultimate Evil, it's almost...peaceful. There is one exception, which I'll get to later.
I THINK that the reason the book is so pleasant has to do with the nature of Korton. He is an unassuming young man, the son and grandson of a tailor, so he doesn't have snooty attitudes to get over before he becomes likable. He succeeds in his difficult apprenticeship process because he works hard. He gets up early. He takes care of his own horse. And while he does not have the raw, natural talent of Jelan, a senior squire who befriends him, he just keeps practicing and hammering away until, pretty much to everyone's surprise, he finishes early and with greater skills than any of his peers.
It's true character, not just a role that he is playing. On his first quest, to kill a dragon, he takes the time to befriend an aged house servant. Because this is a book, of course, it MUST be shown that his easy-going relationships with servants produce unexpected rewards, but honestly folks: he's not doing it for that reason. He's just a nice guy. And he meets a nice girl, and good things happen: they become friends, and eventually fall in love.
Now, the girl (Elzi) is an orphan, taken in during a time of troubles, and put to work in the castle to earn her keep under the tutelage of the aged house servant mentioned earlier. She is one tough cookie. She takes care of him after he returns, with a badly burned arm, from killing the dragon, and crochets while doing it. He takes her crocheting, drops the needles, and then they engage in mock sword fights with the crochet needles. And giggle. (Yup, that's true love on the way.) When he recovers, he uses his carpentry skills to carve a couple of wooden swords, and teaches Elzi how to fight. And because she can use a sword, she absolutely refuses to let him go off and do dangerous stuff while she waits back at the cottage, stirring leeks and lentils. It's a good thing, too, because she just happens to have....nah, not gonna tell you that part.
Okay, you remember I said there is one exception to the peaceful feeling in reading of his adventures? It relates, surprisingly, to Jelan, the senior squire who befriended him. There is a creepiness to the interactions. Don't know how she does it, but it's there. And that's one of the several points at which future books ( and PLEASE let there be future books) can extend and expand.
A point worth mentioning: there are two Amazon authors named Elizabeth Lightfoot. You want the one with the middle initial A. Got that? Elizabeth A. Lightfoot wrote "The Ugly Knight." The OTHER Elizabeth Lightfoot wrote a book about First Lady Michelle Obama. And if you are crass enough to try to make a joke about ugly, shame on you. Shame, shame, shame on you!