Character created by Nigel Bennett & P.N. Elrod
Nigel Bennett is a great actor - originally from England, he makes his home in Canada now. But he writes too - a trilogy of vampire novels in collaboration with P.N. Elrod |
Cover images are scans of my own copies
KEEPER OF THE KING (1997) [*****]
Richard Dun is a security specialist that sometimes does contract work for the Canadian government. He is also a vampire. Once upon a time, though, he was Richard d'Orleans, third son and Champion of the Duke of Orleans. The book opens with his utter defeat in a tourney. What seems a disaster turns out to be his salvation as the Lady Sabra takes him on as her Champion. She makes him a vampire, changes his name to Lancelot du Lac and appoints him Keeper of the King of Britain - namely Arthur.
Okay, the past does play a part in the present, but we get the story in brief flashbacks. Here and now finds Richard hired to help protect the Prime Minister of Canada against a serious threat by a splinter IRA cell which has evidently hired a renown hit man known only as Charon - as in the Ferryman who brings dead souls across the River Styx ... Anyway, no one even has a photo of Charon as anyone who even gets a little bit close to him winds up very, very dead - hideously mutilated, even. He's never failed to carry out a hit. To add to his troubles, Richard finds his control ebbing - his beast, as he calls his vampire nature, is starting to take over. Confused and a little scared, he seeks out his old friend, lover, mother Sabra only to find her dying. They are very old, she and Richard, and evidently they're immortality is not forever. She is older than him and so is farther gone than him - it is very hard for her to keep human form at all and soon she will lose it completely and return to the earth.
The only thing that MIGHT help her? And, by extension, him? The holy cup of the Goddess - The Grail! And Richard must find it and get it to her before it is too late.
Okay, SPOILER ALERT:
Turns out, Charon is a vamp too and he needs the Grail as well because he's turning too. Being super-human AND a vicious psychopathic killer who very much enjoys his work, Charon is a very nasty foe. On this journey, Richard has several love interests - in fact, he spends quite a bit of his time in bed! AND the sauna - THAT'S a steamy scene (grrrrwwwwllllllll). Seriously, he can't keep it in his pants in this one, as opposed to the next one, in which he gets his ass kicked ...
HIS FATHER'S SON (2001) [*****]
In this one, we learn a bit about Richard's rotten childhood. His mother died giving birth to him and his father, the Duke, always blamed him for his wife's death and treated him like crap all his life. When Richard lost the tourney on that fateful day, his father actually tried to kill him! If not for Richard's changed state, he would have bled out right there in the Duke's chamber! That ultimate betrayal has coloured his long life ever since.
In the present day Toronto, Richard gets an emergency email from Stephanie, a lost love. He adored her, but she wanted a family that he could never give her and so married Luis, who turned out to be the brother of a big time drug dealer. When Luis turned state's evidence against his brother, Richard helped the family disappear - to Dallas. He is proud godfather to their three children. But now, it seems, she is frantic that Alejandro (the drug-dealing brother) has found them, so off Richard goes to Dallas.
Okay, SPOILER ALERT:
When Richard gets to their house, he finds Stephanie and the twin girls dead in the master bedroom. Horrified, he barely makes it out in time before the entire house explodes. He is severely damaged in the blast - an ordinary human would surely have perished. This is the first of the major ass-kickings he takes in this book. He recovers with the help of some blood from the children's pony, but it seems animal blood has psychedellic properties for vamps - he trips out, but he does find Michael - Stephanie's little boy - alive, if not quite well, having witnessed the murder of his Mom and sisters.
Richard gets Michael to safety, but where is Luis? In his search, he actually comes across Alejandro at a night club and foolishly confronts him right there - and gets a huge knife in the back for his troubles - the culmination to his second ass-kicking. Again, a normal human would have died straight away. He finds Luis and brings him to his place for safe-keeping till he can get him back with Michael, but he ends up getting hit with a poisoned crossbow bolt which comes damned close to killing him even though he is a vamp! This would be ass-kicking number three. When he recovers from that, Luis is gone - probably assuming Richard is dead, so Richard seeks out the hit-man known to use a crossbow only to suffer ass-kicking number four - LOL! Luckily, turns out this hit man has a conscience and he has had nothing to do with the death of the family or the attack on Richard, so he and Richard join forces to go after Alejandro. This would be when he suffers ass-kicking number - what? Five? Eh, this one is minor, though.
Turns out Luis killed Staphanie and the girls himself. Why? Cause he's an IDIOT! You see, the kids were all blond and blue-eyed - like Richard. They take after Stephanie's people who were from Iceland, so while she was dark, her folks were all fair. But Luis, stupid bastard that he is, has always assumed Richard was really the father - never suspecting that Richard is actually sterile due to his vampiric nature. So, he plans to finish the job on little Michael and finally kill Richard too. Heh, doesn't work that way, naturally.
Anyway, poor little Michael is severely wounded mentally - he's catatonic. Sabra shows up, though, to help and Richard must journey to a world beyond in order to rescue the boy's soul. Turns out the kid is actually the reincarnation of Richard's biological son. Michel had been born while Richard was still mortal (Richard would have been around 19 or 20, actually) and he was actually the one who defeated Richard in that fateful tourney, but he died in battle several years later in another tourney dispite all Richard's efforts to protect him - or maybe even because of his efforts. Anyway, THAT hurt has never left him either. He must come to terms with these age old feelings in order to save the boy now.
The kid has psychic powers too, which I'm curious to know more about - I'm hoping he will show up in book three, which I have ordered and will hopefully get soon ...
I particularly enjoyed this one because it takes place in Dallas and, you know, that happens to be where I'm currently located. There is also a cute scene where Richard loses his stetson in the bar fight, so, ya know, to keep the sun out of his eyes, he finds this ball cap that says "Black Hat Productions" on it - that amuses because that is Nigel's actual web site - visit the site from my links section. And I particularly like the gorgeous cover art for this one too.
SEIGE PERILOUS (2004) [****]
Expecting this one in the mail any day now. I'm hoping Sharon Geary, from book 1, and little Michael, from book 2, will make appearances in this one. And maybe even Charon, who must surely be running around out there somewhere still ...
Okay, got it! First thing about it is the plot is a little far out. Sharon suddenly has magical powers and can see Charon sucking power from another plane? Yeeeeeah. Continuity problems abound - had too much time passed when they wrote this one for them to remember what they'd written in the other two??
I'll nit-pick later, here's the plot - and sorry, but hard to explain without revealing secrets, so SPOILER WARNING!
You may recall that Charon (aka Neal Rivers) was made Human again at the end of book 1. Well, his human body is riddled with cancer and he's dying fairly quickly. He's not happy about that, so he is surviving by sucking energy from "Otherside" - a parallel dimension where resides ancient magicks as well as ancient gods. It is never really explained just HOW he is able to do this - presumably he has some magical powers unrelated to his now cured vampirism - something we're expected to just accept along with the powers of Sabra, Michael and now Sharon Geary.
Yes, Sharon returns in this book and somehow, her encounter with Richard has awakened some hitherto dormant magical Sight abilities, allowing her to see into the Otherside dimension and even to tap into the power there somewhat. She witnesses Charon's attack on Stonehenge. He sucks up all the energy from the area, leaving the area in Otherside a devastated wreck. Here on the Realside plane, Stonehenge hasn't changed, but to certain sensitives, the devastation in Otherside is palpable. Even those who can't see the destruction, can sense it and tourists are collapsing all over the place. She doesn't know how or why he is doing this, but she knows it's very bad, so she follows him to the Yucatan where she interrupts his feeding upon Chichen Itza. She isn't quite as tough as she thinks she is, though, and Charon tosses her off the top of the pyramid. She, along with the great serpent god Kulkulcan, is sucked into a vortex of some kind, but they'll be back later.
Okay, all this is seen in a vision shared by Sabra, Richard, Michael AND Michael's adoptive father Philip Bourland. Pretty powerful vision to be spread around like that - must mean something big is up. While they are all coming together to talk about it, Sabra is in a bad car wreck and ends up in the hospital in a coma - remember, she is Human now too. And the battle is on - Charon must be stopped because he can never suck up enough energy to cure him - the more he ingests, the more he needs - and if he keeps on, he'll turn the universe inside-out, totally destroying both planes of existence. Piecemeal, we slowly learn why Charon is doing this, though like I said, we never really learn how. And we have flashback sequences to show Richard's relationship with his brother Edward, which is nice.
Overall, the plot is kind of out there, but it is kind of fun. Michael becomes the sort of Deus ex Machina at the end - well, actually, Kulkulcan is literally the deus ex machina - ha!
Nit-picky continuity problems:
- One problem right off the bat in chapter 1 - Sharon is hunting Charon as the book opens and she is remembering how she first saw him wipe out the Tor in Glastonbury, et cetera, but it says she saw him there and though she had never seen Rivers before, she knew it was him from Richard's descriptions. Wha?? When she was hunting for her book in book 1, she sat through dozens of Rivers' lectures! She knew exactly what he looked like and really should not have expected him to have a crooked arm or eye patch ....
- Chapter 4 - Michael is described as having blond hair like his mother - WRONG! His mother had black hair! That was the whole point of book 2 - the kids all had blond hair like Richard, which made their dumb-ass father believe Richard was the real father, prompting him to murder his whole family. I mean, this was the main point of the whole book, however could they forget THAT?
- In flashback sequences, Richard's brother Edward is described as a nice guy - he and Richard got along. Richard was a third son and the first born, Ambert, was a real SOB and Edward, the second born, eventually stood by Richard. Anyway, Edward isn't mentioned much in the other two books and I don't think we meet him in any flashbacks in the first two books, but in the first chapter of book 1, after Richard is defeated, he is wondering what he's going to do next. He considers joining the church like his brother Edward, but says Edward wouldn't help him - he treated him with as much scorn as Ambert did - suggesting, of course, that Richard and Edward didn't get along. This is a small point, but it was made early in book 1, though I like the Edward in this book much more than the one hinted at earlier on.
Oh, but Richard has dealings with a group of investigators that sound an awful lot like the OSIR - he even meets a man named Frank with piercing blue eyes - it's hilarious! (For those of you who don't know, Nigel Bennett starred as Frank Elsinger in a series called Psi-Factor about the OSIR - Office of Scientific Investigation and Research - I think they're a real Canadian organisation).
Not quite as good as the other two, this was still a fun read - very sad, though - lots of death and mayhem. Bourland turns out to be the unexpected hero. It's very amusing, too, when he tells Sabra how uncomfortable he is having a sexual relationship with her because he's so much older and then he realizes how old she really is and it's just funny.
KEEPER OF THE KING AUDIO BOOK (1997) [****½]
It's abridged, so some of the details are left out, but it's still fun. Nigel has a lovely voice and the subtle accent changes for different characters is fantastic. There are one or two moments of slight confusion regarding two similar names - the hit man is called Charon, which is pronounced the same as Sharon, one of Richard's love interests, which is the only reason I gave it 4 and a half stars instead of the five that the written book got. Besides, the sauna scene is WAY hotter in the written book. (grrrwwwlllll)
It doesn't look like they did any audio recordings of the other books, but I'll keep looking.
Last updated or checked Apr 2009
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