I'd forgotten about this book...or maybe for the sake of my sanity, my subconscious repressed the memories I got from reading the thing. Either way...
This is one of the stupidest, most pathetic, and honestly most disgusting books I've ever read. I hate to say that, because I'm sure the author worked long and hard on it and a lot of people love it, but eeeww.
Let me begin. I'm going to rant almost exclusively about the first third of this book, since it's three books in one. There's enough material there to keep me ranting forever. This will be long and painful, so brace yourself.
The main character's name is Cabe Bedlam. Ring any warning bells? A guy who's so full of himself that he names his MC "Bedlam" is usually a bad sign to me, but hey, the book was pretty old, so I figured things were different back then and I'd cut him some slack.
Always listen to that little warning tinkle in the back of your head. Always. It'll save you a world of trouble.
So, Cabe makes a living in a tavern, right? Right. Lots of patrons moving in and out, nothing odd ever happens, *dramatic pause*until...a "dark stranger" walks in. His hood's up, nobody can see his face, and he takes an unoccupied table in the dark corner in the back. Cabe goes over to take his order, and skipping a lot of mysterious pauses and other nonsense, the stranger literally looks at him and says, "You are Cabe Bedlam."
Now, Cabe didn't have a second name, he was just Cabe. He'd never known any differently. But when the stranger says this, he nods and says something like, "That's right," because he thinks it feels right.
Whaaa? Does that make any sense to you? Bedlam is supposed to be a notorious name, full of mystery and magic and ominous shivers that crawl down your spine. (Good grief, isn't it all?) And Cabe just accepts it because it sounds right. Thereafter, he calls himself Cabe Bedlam, and the rest of the book he acts like he's known his botched bloodlines forever.
Ahem. Continuing. The Dark Stranger has some name, Shade, I think it was (really original, here comes the dark and mysterious bit again). Shade will spend his life being good - no, angelic. He's Lawful Good, sweet, compassionate, thoughtful, helpful, courageous, selfless, etc. And then he dies. When he comes back to life soon after, he'll be the opposite: Chaotic Evil, vicious, merciless, sadistic, bloodthirsty, etc. Either way, he's cursed to always come back to life, being first good, then evil, then good, then evil (and yes, he's always thirty years old when he revives, apparently). He remembers the life previous to this one, and he hates that he was good/evil, so he does his utmost to be the opposite now. Get the idea?
Now, Cabe learns this early on in the book. And there's a scene, I think it was about halfway through, when a monster kills Shade. Cabe sees the thing kill him, there's no way he could possibly be alive, but because they don't find a corpse, he puts it out of his mind and assumes Shade escaped somehow...and the virtuous, loyal guy didn't see fit to let them know he wasn't dead.
Sometime after this scene, Cabe meets Shade again. Think of all the bad movies where somebody turns evil, and instantly they get greasy hair, ragged clothes, and put on a ton of eyeliner and eye shadow. Shade was like that, and he was practically giving evil chuckles and rubbing his palms together on the side. I can't imagine any reader getting three sentences into his reappearance and not thinking, "Oh, he's evil."
Does Cabe put it together? No. Cabe goes with him into a dark cavern, where he's beaten up by giant armadillos and strapped to an altar with a big, glowing red rock on his chest. This whole time, he's wondering why Shade is leering over him so evilly. He doesn't put it together until *gasp* there's no escape. We've got a real brain surgeon for our hero, huh?
The rock sinks into his chest, by the way. Nasty much?
Anyway, next point. The Gryphon (I don't remember how Knaak spelled the word, I'm guessing). He's this guy who is never really explained, he might be cursed or he might be a gryphon-human hybrid or he might be practically anything, for all the info this book gives you. Whatever he is, he shifts constantly in and out of Gryphon-ness.
See, his nose turns into a big, hooked beak, and when it's not a hooked beak, it's a big, bony, downcurved, pointy thing that looks like a beak anyway. His hands and feet grow talons or lion's claws, fur or feathers, and always look kind of bony and, well, clawlike.
Maybe I'm unique, but I don't like my men to look like humanized birds of prey! So, why did it repeatedly describe the Gryphon as being "lordly" and "handsome"? Gross.
The worst, though, is yet to come...the romance. Some of you already know how I tend to react to romance, but I've never read one that was so vile or pitiful as in this book.
The Lady, AKA Gwen (I think) was a student of Cabe's grandfather. His grandfather was married and had a son, obviously. BUT even despite that, and the fact that he was her teacher, she fell in love with the guy and kissed him, swore herself to him, etc.
The grandfather's son, Cabe's father, was in love with Gwen. He pursued her constantly, all the while twirling his moustache and scheming evil things. She rejected him, he trapped her in a big block of amber in somebody's garden.
Near the beginning of the book, Cabe accidentally stumbles into said garden, accidentally breaks the amber and frees her, and then they become traveling companions.
I want it noted that throughout the entire book, brainless Cabe doesn't do anything heroic or impressive. Gwen treats him like it, being condescending and generally acting like he's her not-so-bright pupil. There is barely any interaction between the two because the don't like talking, but when they do talk, they're never friendly.
So, it makes perfect sense that there's a siege on a castle they're stuck in later in the book, and things are desperate. Cabe and Gwen are literally just walking down a corridor, discussing strategy, when all of a sudden Cabe wheels around, falls to his knees, and says "I love you! I would die for you, my beautiful Gwen!" etc. He continues to profess his undying love for a while, forgetting about the bad guys hemming them in and trying to rip their throats out.
Get a grip, man.
Anyway, they get separated, and at some point while she's on her own, as if he hasn't already professed his undying love, she realizes, "Oh my gosh, I love Cabe, he's so amazing, I would die for him!"
So yeah, the two meet up, kiss, and are planning their honeymoon - I'm not kidding - within like, a week of meeting each other....AFTER SHE LOVED HIS MARRIED GRANDFATHER, AND THEN SPURNED THE ADVANCES OF HIS FATHER.
But hey, the book's intellectual prowess doesn't end there, I haven't even mentioned the Coincidence Express that rampages through the whole thing. This review's getting too long, so I'll wrap it up by just pointing out the worst one, and yes it's a spoiler:
When they "defeat" Cabe's father, they get sucked into some kind of endless black void. ENDLESS. As in, it can take millions of years to find a way out. There are millions upon millions of items drifting around in it, and they need to find - what was it? Either his dad's corpse or his dad's staff.
We, by the way, is my explanation for the fact that Cabe's dear old dead grandpa possessed him and is now some kind of symbiotic thing that makes him ultimately powerful and shares his thoughts (yes, while he's kissing Gwen, too).
Anyway. Cabe, of course, drifts through this blackness for about ten minutes, bumps into the thing he was looking for, and then almost immediately afterwards, blunders into the magic exit sign. He and grandpa come home safe within the hour.
Makes perfect sense, right? No?
Oh, and one more thing: at the beginning of the book, Cabe's hair is black with a few silver threads making a streak in it. Throughout the book, that streak will become larger, larger, then half his head is silver, then it gets SMALLER and is only a quarter of his hair, then it gets larger again, and again, and then it's less than half his head for some reason, and then suddenly it's ALL silver, and then it's just a little streak.....
Confusing much? Oh, and at the end, his hair is supposedly its rightful total silver. BUT at the beginning of the second book, it shrinks drastically again.
Eurgh. This book makes no sense! Just thinking about it makes me feel like my brain's melting. I can't talk about it anymore, I'm through. You want to learn more about it, have fun reading it yourself, I sure hope you enjoy it more than I did.....