Sometimes you get a book and you really want to like it. The cover is great, the premise is intriguing and other people whose opinions you trust have expressed liking said book. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen, as was the case with James Enge’s Blood of Ambrose. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it didn’t quite hold my interest throughout:
Initially, I was a bit put off by the flow of the story. It wasn’t immediately clear just how young a boy Lathmar is. Through his interaction with both Urdhven and Ambrosia it become apparent how young the King is. As the King and Ambrosia escape, they call upon Morlock to defend Ambrosia’s honor in a trial by combat against the legendary Red Knight. These scenes firmly entrenched the story darkness of Enge’s world. It also was the first hint of the humor evident in Enge’s writing – upon defeating the Red Knight, Morlock is found to be simply asleep.
The other somewhat off-putting element of this novel was that I expected Morlock to be more front-and-center character throughout the story. It takes him a while to show up for that aforementioned trial by combat and even after that, he takes more of an advisor role to the young King than as the central figure of the story. In a way, that does work in the favor of the novel. Primarily because Morlock is spoken of as such a legendary character by the outlying characters – Morlock is the Crooked Man, a man always in shadows, almost an urban legend. So in this sense, Enge introduces the character through hearsay and sort of deconstructs the legend as Morlock comes more front-and-center into the novel.