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I love reading fantasy novels – especially the kind that have cool techie gadgets included in the story. With the novel "Hellknight" by Liane Merciel, readers are in for an adventurous and suspenseful story of a ruthless killer bent on revenge, and the Hellknight assigned to stop him! Joining our Hellknight is a paladin named Ederras, who has quite an epic history of military service under his belt, and a diabolist named Velenne – who happens to be the paladin’s old flame – in which case, it did not end well and he spent 15 years convinced she had betrayed him.

What exactly is a Hellknight? There is a Hellknight and a graveknight in the story (and I started to wonder if there were any other “knights” in this story, as well). There isn’t too much info given in the story about the history of the Hellknights but from what I was able to deduce from the story, they are like an elite police force. Not exactly the police – that exists under a different name in this story – but sort of like what we know as a SWAT team. They are the police but their also like guardians and soldiers. They are highly trained and very disciplined in their service to their respectable houses (in our Hellknight’s case, hers is the House of Scourge). The Hellknight in the story is named Jheraal and she carries a dark secret. What I liked about her is that she was flawed: She strives to maintain the rigors expected of a Hellknight but she has her faults. She is not perfect, though she tries to be. She cannot show weakness or emotion, but those things do slip out here and there. Jheraal is not human – she is a hellspawn – but she had many human attributes that I appreciated in such an unusual character.

Then there’s Ederras. He is forced to team up with Velenne and work with her and Jheraal in order to solve the murders taking place. He once loved Velenne very much but something happened between them and he spent years hating her and thinking she had betrayed him. Yet when they are together again, he cannot resist being with her again. Things are different between them now yet Ederras fails to see that. He fails to see a lot of things about Velenne that he never realized could be true. When he asked her “Why me?” after they had just made love for the second time and she smiles at him and says, “Isn’t it obvious?,” I could only shake my head and mumble, “She loves you, you idiot!” Then I rolled my eyes and muttered, “Men can be so clueless sometimes.” Ederras tended to be a bit clueless in this story. I found it interesting that he didn't understand why the assassin, Sechel, was kept in service to their enemy (Lictor Shokneir -- what a name!). “Because she is still useful to him,” I said. When they realize that Shokneir wants to exact revenge on those he hates, with Sechel doing the dirty work, I mumbled, "Like I said. Useful." But it would seem that Ederras is either too blinded by the ghosts from his past to see things another way or that he is just so clueless. I had a good laugh when Velenne tells him, after reassuring him that she was NOT trying to betray him, "In that case it is once again my pleasure to tell you that you're an idiot."

I liked this quote from Jheraal: "Sometimes changing yourself is less painful than trying to change the world." (pg 323) She did try to change herself once, and I was left wanting to know more about this secret life that she had.

As for the villain Lictor Shokneir, he is the kind of villain who is never satisfied with getting what he wants. He is ruthless, evil to the core and unmerciful. He will always want more death, more vengeance and more torture. He was definitely the kind of villain that struck fear in even me.

Hellknight was a brilliantly written novel filled with magic, demons, adventures and mystery that had me constantly turning the pages. It was certainly the kind of book that was hard to put down. The author brought this fantasy world to life so well in the story and the characters were all realistic and very lifelike. It was certainly the kind of story that I wanted to read more of and it makes an excellent addition to the Pathfinder Tales stories.

Book Blurb for Hellknight

Paizo Publishing is the award-winning publisher of fantasy role playing games, accessories, and board games. Liane Merciel's Pathfinder Tales: Hellknight is a thrilling addition to their popular novel series.

The Hellknights are a brutal organization of warriors dedicated to maintaining law and order at any cost. For devil-blooded Jheraal, even the harshest methods are justified if it means building a better world for her daughter. Yet when a serial killer starts targeting hellspawn like Jheraal and her child, Jheraal has no choice but to use all her cunning and ruthlessness in order to defeat an ancient enemy to whom even death is no deterrent.

Night Owl Reviews Jan, 2017 5.00