The Last Knight by Hilari Bell

The Last Knight, by Hilari Bell, was published in 2007 by Eos.

Need a hero? You’ve got one in Sir Michael Sevenson. Although there hasn’t been a knight errant in over two hundred years, this young noble has decided to revive the trade. He’s found himself a reluctant partner in Fisk, a clever rogue who has been given the choice of serving as Michael’s squire or going to jail for a very long time. Now Michael and Fisk are on a quest to right wrongs, protect the innocent, and make the world a happier place. It’s not going to be easy. On their first attempt at rescuing a damsel in distress, they break a lady out of a tower, only to discover she was there for good reason: awaiting trial for poisoning her husband. Now the would-be heroes must find Lady Ceciel and return her to justice or be condemned themselves.

I enjoyed Hilari Bell’s Sword of Waters trilogy enough to want to pick up another book by her, and I’m glad I did. The cover of The Last Knight evoked Melina Marchetta (Finnikin of the Rock) and Cinda Williams Chima (The Demon King) vibes, and while it wasn’t as gripping or as complexly built as either of those author’s series, I thought The Last Knight was quite good.

While the world is a little confusing in places and not as seamlessly integrated as it could have been, overall I thought it quite nice. Michael and Fisk are both delightful narrators and their adventure, while in some cases clearly contrived to fit information about the world into the story, is mysterious and tense and good in all the right places. But the selling point is the friendship between Michael and Fisk: their banter, their similarities and dissimilarities, and the way they play off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

So, while I’m still a little confused about some aspects of the world (such as: why are there two moons? Why aren’t there any more knights errant? And in a medieval fantasy world is it acceptable for the characters to just casually say “I went and got some bleach”?), I liked the dynamic between the two main characters. The plot itself was good, too, even though at times it felt a little contrived as a result of Bell trying to worldbuild. The Last Knight is a fun, enjoyable book, and I especially liked it because I got to see more of what Bell can do beyond the one trilogy I read.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

The baron scowled. “Horn and hoof!” Son, if you had to have a…squire, why couldn’t you take one of the men-at-arms instead of a town-bred gutterling with ‘knave’ written all over him?”

I was too surprised to take offense, for most people don’t see past my honest face. The baron obviously had the Gift of reading people—it’s common among nobles. A pity his son didn’t have it. He might have seen through Lady Ceciel.

“Fisk was a knave,” said Sir Michael. “But now he is a squire. Mayhap the writing you see will change, in time.”

The baron looked exasperated, an attitude with which I could sympathize.

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