I just finished THE SWAN KNIGHT’S SON, book one of the new MOTH AND COBWEB series by John C. Wright. One of Wright’s previous novels, Somewhither, won the inaugural Dragon Con Award for Science Fiction). I reviewed Somewhither last year.
This is the 5-star review I posted to Amazon.
The Swan Knight’s Son started out with a good story–when the story opens with a clock striking thirteen, you know your in for a wild ride through the imagination. Somewhere it became a great story. I can’t wait for part 2.
I have recently read the Chronicles of Narnia to my boys and am in the fourth book of Prydain. This series, Moth and Cobweb, could be the Narnia or Prydain of our generation. I will likely be reading this one to them once parts 2 and 3 (also Gil’s adventure) come out. It is a coming of age tale in an age that needs them.
Swan Knight’s Son speaks of a realm of wonder and deep meaning that lies just beyond our mortal eyes. A place where everything has significance if you know where to find it. It speaks of an honorable world–both more vivid and more cruel than our own. The shock of a fight between two enemies being fought with honor by both sides speaks to the detriment of our society. We always expect one side to cheat or otherwise be a little evil. Neither knight is one that humans would want to win! Yet, both act with honor—rearming him when an opponent is weaponless, halting to dismount when the first is knocked off. Not all the elven knights fight that way, but the ideal is still reached for by some.
The book is the first in a series and, naturally, sets up the universe. First up, there is a third hemisphere where the elvinkind dwell. Gil doesn’t know about them (meaning that he serve as our audience surrogate and have things explained to him that we don’t know without it coming off as an “as you know” scene). The third hemisphere overlaps with ours, or at least the elves are able to move from their hemisphere into ours without being seen by most people. Gil and his mother can see them, along with most animals, such as Gil’s talking dog.
Gil is 16yo in our modern day and has chosen a father since he doesn’t know who his real father is. He chose King Arthur and decided to make him proud. To do so, he pursues the knighthood. It’s very difficult to find a knight to squire with in North Carolina, a fact his mother counts on. She does not want him to become a knight like his father (whose name she will not give to Gil).
Gil’s mother has been trying to protect him from the elves his whole life. She has immortal blood of her own but of neither the light court of elves nor the dark court. She and Gil are of the Twilight realm of fairie, but both also have human blood. They are the clan of Moth—a Twilight clan that reaches for the light, unlike Clan Cobweb which reaches for the darkness. Gil can speak to animals, an ability that serves him in good stead when he takes a bear for his fighting teacher. He also has a mermaid for a cousin, but she only wears her tail on special occasions.
If you are a fan of John Wright’s Everness or Unwithering Realm books, you will also like this one. There are a handful of sideways references to each but not enough where reading either is required to enjoy this one. For example, both Everness and Swan Knight speak of a mist that keeps elvinkind from human eyes (only the same mist if this book is part of the Everness which we don’t know) and Gil used to live in the same Oregon town that Ilya from Somewhither lives in.