Published by Tor
MMPB March 2007
David Keck’s debut novel, In the Eye of Heaven tells the story of a wandering knight, a Knight Errant. Our hero is Durand, a young man set to move up in the land where he grew up only to have his promised spot on the social ladder stolen by an heir long-thought dead. How does this affect Durand? Not very much outside of initial frustration and anger, but he doesn’t dwell on it after the initial tantrum. He just up and leaves because the land he once knew holds nothing for him. A rash decision, but such is youth, and a decision that seems somewhat wrong-headed. That said, in some ways, this is refreshing. All too often the angst ridden protagonist will whine about and complain about his situation without really taking hold of his (or her) own life and be proactive. In this sense, Durand is somewhat different. However, throughout the remainder of the novel, his character is barely part of the story. Durand is more of an adornment to the remaining plot rather than a true mover of the story. .
The early sections of the novel were clumsily written. I had to read and re-read several pages multiple times just to figure out what Keck was trying to convey. This doesn’t happen very often to me. Keck didn’t clearly lay out the foundation for the story and the remainder of the novel suffered.
The cumbersome writing does even itself out after the first few chapters of the novel. However, Durand’s blandness continues to impede any real depth for his character. Things just seem to happen around him and he barely speaks for himself. Perhaps Keck was aiming for such an effect, if so he succeeded. For my tastes, it didn’t work and left me feeling unsympathetic and apathetic towards his story and plight. The characters who surround Durand, though fleshed out a bit more, were not much more than clichéd characters to hold up an otherwise flat story. Keck invests more of a purpose with the supporting characters than the just-going-along-for-the-ride feel of Durand’s character.
On the positive side of things, Keck constructed a world that is both familiar in the elements parallel to our own and one familiar to fantasy readers. The world seems to be at the crossroads of pagan beliefs and Christianity and each passing scene does further enrich the world. A rich mythology and religion inform the world, clearly showing Keck has skills in this area of storytelling.
I wanted to like this book, with the air of adventure one might associate with traveling knights, but was disappointed. I can’t fully recommend the novel and have little impetus to read the remaining novels in this trilogy.