Covenant of the Faceless Knights (Beginnings, #2)

Covenant of the Faceless Knights (Beginnings Saga, #2) - Gary F. Vanucci

I used to play a lot of table-top roleplaying games in college and Covenant of the Faceless Knights by Gary Vanucci brought those memories back in force! I read the collection of short stories last year that give the background for a number of the characters in Covenant of the Faceless Knights, and I do recommend reading those. Like any table-top roleplaying game, there are a number of characters in the adventuring party and it is useful to have some context to keep all the names straight! While I enjoy a new high fantasy world to explore, I ended up being distracted by repetitive sentences, stereotypical adventurers and frequent point of view switches. If you are in the mood for a fun adventure, you might enjoy Covenant of the Faceless Knights.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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Title: Covenant of the Faceless Knights
Author: Gary Vanucci
Length: 341 pages
Genre-ish: High Fantasy

When a dangerous artifact goes missing from the Temple of The Shimmering One, the high priest in charge of the artifact’s protection realizes that he will not be able to retrieve the stolen relic without help. Calling upon Garius, the man who was once his own apprentice, Tiyarnon the High Priest enlists the aid of a man who is now an Inquisitor among the Order of the Faceless Knights. Garius, now a man of power and prestige, gathers a handful of allies to help complete his quest–but who among them is worthy of his trust? Aided by the mischievous Rose, a rogue among rogues, the stoic and blood thirsty Saeunn, and a promising but naïve elf named Elec, Garius hopes his training as one among the Faceless Knights has prepared him to keep his small company in check, let alone survive the trials to come. Garius must lead his band of allies into dark regions to recover the artifact before it falls into the hands of the evil being that once held it in order to ensure the continued safety of the Realm of Ashenclaw. – Goodreads

Strengths:

  •  Covenant of the Faceless Knights took the interesting approach of giving us the heroes’ perspectives as well as the villain’s. While we know what the heroes are tromping around and doing, we also get hints as to the true evil that is awaiting them. This was important since there is a lot more going on in Covenant of the Faceless Knights than just what our heroes think they are dealing with.
  • I always appreciate a high fantasy that has strong female characters in addition (or instead of :D) the muscley and brilliant men. Covenant of the Faceless Knights has both clever, brave, and physically strong women, yey!

Weaknesses:

  •  There were a lot of repetitive sentences in Covenant of the Faceless Knights that had me scratching my head and wondering if I was re-reading a paragraph by accident (I wasn’t, I checked ;-) ).
  • In addition to switching to the ultimate villain’s perspective, there were also switches to the thugs that the heroes would be facing. There was also switching between all the party members’ perspectives. This led to me being a bit overwhelmed with all of the storylines and perspectives that didn’t end up coming together in Covenant of the Faceless Knights anyway. Hopefully the next book brings it all together!
  • There were a lot of the typical high fantasy tropes going on with the strong but beautiful barbarian woman, the devious but also still beautiful rogue, the stoic but brave knight, etc.
  • Speaking of the beautiful women, the first half of Covenant of the Faceless Knights was filled with references to how beautiful the only two women in the adventuring party were. When we jumped to the two males’ perspective they just couldn’t stop noticing how beautiful the women were and apparently it was quite distracting to them. I would like the appearance of the female party members to not be such a hot topic, and why is it necessary for all female main characters to be stunningly beautiful? Oh and you romance fans will be disappointed because none of this beauty and distractedness translated into love, just staring.

Summary:

While Covenant of the Faceless Knights had an interesting premise, it suffered from many of the pitfalls in high fantasy. The characters seemed pulled straight from a table-top roleplaying guide and they just never had a chance to develop beyond that. The writing could have used a bit more polishing to make every word count and not give the reader deja vu. Despite that, I was left with a lot of questions. Why are the knights called Faceless? They certainly have faces if Garius is typical of them. What is going to happen with the big bad lich-dude? He was doing all this stuff, but he and our heroes never actually encountered each other. Hopefully these will be answered in the next book! If you are a fan of stories that remind you of Dungeons and Dragons, then you might quite enjoy Covenant of the Faceless Knights. Just be prepared for all the staring and beautiful women ;-).

Source: http://www.onstarshipsanddragonwings.com/2013/06/28/covenant-of-the-faceless-knights-by-gary-vanucci