The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost

A fast, engaging storyline and a few likeable characters.
The Paladin Prophecy book cover

Will West is careful to live life under the radar. At his parents' insistence, he's made sure to get mediocre grades and to stay in the middle of the pack on his cross-country team. Then Will slips up, accidentally scoring off the charts on a nationwide exam.

Now Will is being courted by an exclusive prep school… and is being followed by men driving black sedans. When Will suddenly loses his parents, he must flee to the school. There he begins to explore all that he's capable of - physical and mental feats that should be impossible - and learns that his abilities are connected to a struggle between titanic forces that has lasted for millennia.

The initial storyline, sounding like a bizarre mix of X-men and Da Vinci Code, isn’t exactly compelling but the actual story itself morphs into something far more enjoyable. We meet Will West, an average teenager in a small town, who suddenly finds his life taking a series of bizarre turns and he must make quick decisions in order to stay alive and ahead of the people after him. Along the way he also discovers that he can perform great feats of physical and mental strength, as well as encountering friends and enemies alike that play a big part in his destiny.

Standing at around 500 pages, this book is no small tome and the plot is ridiculously complicated, not aided by the sheer speed with which it moves. In some instances this is actually a positive trait, the book certainly kept me hooked to the end, but a lot of important explanations are either lacking in substance or skipped entirely. I suspect the promise of the second book in the series will be to answer some of who's, what's and why's, but this book feels like it is missing a lot of necessary groundwork to help you engage fully with the plot. There's also the way Will's schoolmates talk – it may seem like a small gripe but does Frost actually believe that teenagers talk like that? I had to keep taking time out from the book just to get over the ridiculousness of some of the conversations.

Despite its failings, and there are many, I still found The Paladin Prophecy highly entertaining with a fast, engaging storyline and a few likeable characters. I can’t put my finger on what actually made the book so enthralling, perhaps it’s the speed of the narrative, maybe it’s Will’s unlikely companions, but either way the finished product is definitely something I’d recommend if you like your fantasy books. The second in the series should be making its way onto our shelves soon, and I’ll be keeping a keen eye on Frost’s website for the release date.

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