Lord of a Thousand Nights, by Madeline Hunter

>> Monday, July 02, 2007

TITLE: Lord of a Thousand Nights (excerpt)
AUTHOR: Madeline Hunter

PAGES: 357

SETTING:Mid-1350s Scotland
TYPE: Medieval Romance
SERIES: Her medievals are all related and, to make things more complicated, the chronological order in which they take place is not the same order the books were published. Of the six, LOATN was published fifth, but the events narrated in it take place last of all. So I would suggest reading it after the other five. More info here.

REASON FOR READING: I didn't remember I hadn't read it before. I've had it since it came out, over 5 years ago (ordered it on January 1st, 2002, according to amazon... a New Year's present?), but I kind of assumed I'd read it. I just really looked at it a couple of weeks ago and realized I hadn't. It was probably because I accidentally put it in my keeper shelves instead of back in the TBR when my friend who'd borrowed it returned it.

Called the Lord of a Thousand Nights, Ian of Guilford was famed as much for his feats in the bedroom as on the battlefield. But Lady Reyna Graham had no idea of this when, disguised as a courtesan, she passed behind enemy lines with a desperate plan to save her people.

Now, sitting in the tent of the dizzyingly handsome warrior who commanded the army outside her gates, the beautiful widow suddenly realized that she had underestimated her foe.

For she found herself in the company of a man whose charms were said to be impossible to resist...and who would show no mercy in laying siege to her heart — and body — with every sensual weapon in his arsenal.

For the sake of her people, she must not give in ... and she must somehow turn this legendary lover who never lost his heart into a man who would exchange all his thousand nights for one with her....
THE PLOT: The external plot is closely related to The Protector. The hero of that one, Morvan, saw his family's lands taken over by another lord when he was a child and has dedicated his life to recovering them. That goal is within grasp now and while he lays siege to his former home, he sends his right-hand man, Ian of Guilford, to conquer an allied keep, Black Lyne.

Lady Reina Graham is the widow of the former holder of that keep, and her situation was tenuous even before the siege started. She's suspected of poisoning her husband and there's a very real possibility that she'll be hung for it. Fearing the consequences of an adverse outcome to the siege, Reyna hatches a plan: she'll sneak out to enemy camp, pretending to be a prostitute, and drug and then assassinate Ian (who she initially thinks is Lord Morvan), after which she'll run away to Edinburgh.

But this is a romance heroine we're talking of, so of course, at the last minute, she can't quite pull it off. She's quite soundly defeated: Ian sees through the plan immediately, and then even tricks her into revealing the secret entrance to the keep, thus achieving a bloodless and victorious end to the coup.

Ian doesn't quite know what to do with Reyna, who's determined to escape to Edinburgh. And in the end, circumstances make it seem as if he's compromised her and a marriage of convenience becomes necessary, Not that Ian minds so much, surprisingly, because he's become quite intrigued and attracted by Reyna.

Even more surprising, given that Ian has received the nickname of "Lord of a Thousand Nights" for his bedroom feats, is the fact that Reyna is completely opposed to the idea of marrying him and needs to be convinced. But Ian manages it and they wed. And during their marriage, they not only will have to learn to undertand and trust each other, but to investigate the truth behind the death of Reyna's late husband.

MY THOUGHTS: The first thought that comes to mind is "It's good, but....". Yeah, that "but" is all about expectations. I'm not rating it higher or lower because it's Madeline Hunter, but it did affect how I felt about this being the B read it is. With a new author or one I hadn't much enjoyed before I'd think "Yay, a B!". With Hunter, whose other books (especially the medievals) I've adored, I think "Eh, a B." and I'm ever-so-slightly disappointed.

One of the reasons for my somewhat lukewarm reaction is that, of all her books, I'd say this one is the one that's least infused with History. What I've become used to from Hunter, whether she's setting her story in the Medieval era or in the 19th century, is that the story and characters will be shaped by the events happening around them and that the setting will come alive in a very rich and vivid and unique fashion.

LOATN, while very far from a wallpaper historical, doesn't have that richness. In fact, other than how this needed to be happening X years after a certain event, as far as the rest of the plot and the characters' worldview, the story could probably be moved a couple of hundred years to the past or future. I think this might be partly because most of the story takes place at a keep, and I've read a thousand other keeps in medievals. Same thing for the characters. I'm less intrigued by yet another warrior and yet another aristocratic lady than by merchants and potters and stonemasons.

I also didn't love the romance. It was pretty good, and the characters were nicely individual, but I couldn't stop a small sigh at seeing yet another virgin widow paired with a promiscuous hero. To Hunter's credit, the reason for this is not convoluted and plays an important part in the resolution of the plot, but still.

And my enjoyment was lowered further by an egregious instance of TSTL behaviour on the part of the heroine and her two friends, the heroines of By Arrangement and The Protector. Their husbands are involved in the last stages of a siege and have sent them to a safe place. Well, makes sense... after all, things are obviously in a convulsed state in the area at that time. Well, I just couldn't believe it when the three twits just up and decide to ride on their own to Glasgow, right through this convulsed area. Why? Any important reason? Why, not really, just bored. And of course, they do run into trouble. *sigh* Look, I'm a feminist, so I can definitely sympathise with a desire for independence and not being willing to just be stashed in a safe place while the men have their fun, but there's independence and there's stupidity, and this falls under the latter.

*sigh* I've been ranting and ranting and it sounds like I didn't enjoy the book in the least, doesn't it. But I did, I really did. While I was reading it, I had a great time (other than when the three idiots went on their little excursion). Hunter is a great writer and the book flowed wonderfully. The story drew me in immediately and I was never bored. I liked the politics and strategies of the situation, I liked the mystery of Reyna's husband's death, I liked many small nuggets of character development, like Ian's fascinating relationship with Morvan, who trusts him but still has a few doubts. And yes, I did like the romance, just not as much as I hoped for.

MY GRADE: Eh, I've given that away already: a B.


Post a Comment

Blog template by simplyfabulousbloggertemplates.com

Back to TOP