REVIEW: Lord of Midnight by Jo Beverley
Dear Mrs. Beverley,
Oh why don’t you write medievals anymore? Is the market not there? Are the only periods that will sell Georgians and Regencies? Not that I don’t like the books you set in those eras but your medievals were so good. I’ll pause a moment to blink back a tear. Sniff. Okay that’s finished.
Yet another “what does this title have to do with the book?” book. Unless
it’s referring to Renald’s black Damascus steel sword. But he’s never called this
in the book so…well, anyway on to the book. Since this is such a close sequel to “Dark Champion” I’m doing it next.
I won’t recap the plot as there is a wonderful DIK review at AAR that actually inspired me to read the book. LOM isn’t a DIK book for me but it was interesting and I’m sorry that when I finished it, I knew I’d read your last medieval. The hero is the friend in “Dark Champion” but I like that I didn’t need to read that one first. In fact, readers might like LOM better if they don’t
read DC first as we see a totally different side of Renald’s character in his own book. I was somewhat disappointed in that but friends had mentioned it so I was expecting it and I had waited a year and a half to read LOM so the change wasn’t as jarring.
Once again you do a good job setting the stage in the medieval world and
the religion and politics of the times aren’t just wallpaper but woven into the plot. The dirt and filth of the age are slightly toned down but I still get a strong feeling for the period. For how little power women had, how powerful the king was, how you’d really want a strong man to guard you and yours and how openly bawdy the time was.
One of the best characters for me was Claire’s grandmother who had been a young Saxon woman at the time of the Norman invasion and who had faced a fate similar to Claire’s. I would love to read her story or at least a novella about her and how she and her Norman husband worked out their marriage. She’s down to earth and extremely blunt when urging Claire to marry Renald. “It’s you who’s got what men like. Curves and big titties. Your hair’s
gold…, your skin good, but it’s the curves and titties that count. You can use those to rule a man.” There were a few nice scenes which showed how the women passed on the knowledge of how to control men and get their way in life.
Now for Claire and Renald. Claire has a few feisty moments but she doesn’t ever get herself into stupid situations so that Renald can save her. She struggles as well as she can to get what she wants but she “acts period.” You do a good job showing her changing feelings toward Renald and how Claire does come to understand why he did what he did and accept it.
My main problems are with Renald. We see very little of his POV. At first it worked, as Claire needed to find out his true feelings and thoughts but I felt after a while, we really needed to see more of what was going on in his head. We are told halfway through the book that he’s madly in love with her but I didn’t see it happen. There is really no hint that he feels anything but healthy lust and determination to do his duty by marrying one of the Somerbourne women. After we know he’s in love, he shows it a lot but I needed to see it happening. And there is the fact that he’s very different as a hero than as a hero’s friend.
There’s a bit of a mystery in the middle part of the book that is resolved at the end. However, I felt that it was kind of useless and could really have been taken out of the story with no loss to the plot. Plus, it slows down the action. At the end of the story, we get to see some of the hero and heroine from “Dark Champion” but it’s mainly to show how smugly happy they are. No loss if they hadn’t been included.
Winding up, there was a lot I liked about Lord of Midnight but parts that didn’t work so well for me. Overall, I’d give it a qualified B. It’s not as good as some of your other medievals but it is well worth the effort to track down.