“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will.  Either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.”  (Paulo Coelho)

Life can be tough.  There can be no doubt about that!  It will knock you down to your knees so many times that it may seem almost impossible to get back up.  Choosing instead to retreat into the darkness and escape the daily struggles.  However, those who can rise above such isolationist temptations and instead face challenges head on are the ones who will ultimately have the greatest impact.  These are the heroic individuals of whom legends are made.  In the novel The Bastard from Fairyland by author Phil Parker, we are able to see just such a scenario.  For lovers of dark fantasy which is steeped in action and adventure… while at the same time exploring the depth and complexities of the mind… look no further!

The Bastard from Fairyland is Book One of the Knight’s Protocol Trilogy.  It follows the exploits of Robin Goodfellow who is an exiled fairy living in the human realm.  Existing amongst the humans as a virtual outcast, Robin’s greatest desire in life is to be left alone.  Nevertheless, that is not to be as the Fae have invaded with the ultimate quest of enslaving humanity.  As is quickly revealed in the tale- their ambition is matched only by their cruelty.  When the conflict inevitably lands on his doorstep, Robin is forced to make a decision.  Alas- what is a poor, placid and exiled fairy to do?  Underestimating Robin could be a very serious error in judgment… for he is no mere Fae.  Robin is a trooping fairy who has been born and bred to fight.  Blood and gore is no stranger to him.  He has also been sworn to protect the human knights- a twin brother and sister who the Fae have come to destroy.  A collision course between Robin and the fae of the Dark Court has been set.  Does Robin have what it takes to uphold his sworn oath?  Or is he ultimately destined for something far worse than exile?

I found this novel to be very fast moving and utterly engaging.  Robin, who is the main protagonist, is dragged into open warfare from the very outset of the story.  Action and adventure follows from that point on and the reader needs to hold on tight!  Also, while there are a variety of themes contained within this novel, the good versus evil motif stands out as the most prominent.  It is heavily supported by the sequence of captivating story events.  And this action can be dark at times- very dark indeed!  Nonetheless, this wicked atmosphere further supports and lends authenticity to a beautifully orchestrated tale.  All of this takes place in an entirely brutal, yet imaginative story-world which has the noble Arthurian background as the backdrop.  Very clever juxtaposition.

While the plot will keep the reader entirely immersed in the story… so will the characters.  There are a plethora of intriguing and imaginative players in this novel.  We have a solid mix of faeries, humans, troll-like creatures, as well as dragons and wyverns.  What stuck me the most about this book is the fact that each character has a carefully designed role which lends credibility to the theme.  For instance, the Fae have a “Dark” and “Light” Court, while even Robin has two distinct sides to his personality (did someone mention Puck!)  Even though we are in a deep, dark fantasy world, the characters come across as authentic and memorable.  From the deeply conflicted and heroic Robin, to the malevolent Llyr.  Stubborn yet wiley Nimue, to the petulant Brea.  Everyone has their place and as the reader we can actually envision them all in our own world.  Such character believability is a key ingredient to the success of any fantasy novel.

All of this comes together in a wonderfully paced book which is full of suspense and chicanery.  Interestingly, there are 3 First person perspectives in the novel… Robin, Keir and Filidea.  While Robin was my personal favorite and undoubtedly carries the novel, each of the 3 have their own defined role.  They do not disrupt the flow of the writing at all and instead provide more background and perspective.

I would highly recommend this novel to adult fantasy readers.  It is an intelligent and very entertaining read.  There are some brutal scenes and sexual overtones so be forewarned.

5 out of 5 Captivating Stars for this one!