Gideon’s Spear is not one of those novels that pushes you along toward its conclusion. Rather, it reaches out from the last page, and pulls you through twists and turns, ups and downs, and everything else author Darby Karchut can throw at you, till finally you reach the end.
Gideon’s Spear starts off shortly after the bruises have healed from Finn Finnegan, the first in “The Adventures of Finn MacCullen” series. Though he’s still early in his apprenticeship, Finn has had to learn quickly how to fight–and how to stay alive. In this installment, Finn discovers that new friends he’s made might have more to them than he’d originally thought, and he finds himself with another potential rival apprentice to torment him.
But he knows the secret of Gideon’s Spear (the spear, not the title) and how it works.
This information doesn’t save him from his usual chores and training under his Knight’s tutelage. What happens, though, is that Knight and apprentice grow closer, better able to communicate with each other, both in normal-life situations, and when fighting their nemeses, the Amandan.
There’s a new twist, though. An old rival of Gideon’s has come to their Colorado town, and she is by no means there for a friendly visit. She quickly forges a pact with the Amandan, and the goblins’ prize will be a tasty meal of Knight and apprentice.
Once again, Darby Karchut has worked her own magic (presumably, not centuries-old Celtic magic, though it wouldn’t surprise me), and produced an excellent novel. In Gideon’s Spear, she takes things she mentioned casually in Finn Finnegan, and fleshes them out into hugely important plot points. I’d elaborate, but it would add spoilers to the review.
In Gideon’s Spear, Ms. Karchut proves that she is immune to the “sophomore slump,” the phenomenon wherein the second book in a series is nearly always flat compared to the first. Finn, Gideon, and the other characters are so wonderfully fleshed-out, we can imagine their voices, their thoughts, anticipate their actions. There’s a seamless consistency in tone and story between Finn Finnegan and Gideon’s Spear, a tribute to the author’s skill.
Typically, I enjoy a novel, review it here, and move on to the next one.
I read Gideon’s Spear in one sitting, and I feel like I’ve survived an Indiana Jones movie–battered, bloody, bruised, and beaten. It’s okay, though, for it was–as Gideon might call it–a bleedin’ fair ride.
(nb: I received a review copy from the publisher)