Note: The Author Visits received a copy of GunKnight in exchange for an honest review.
Review provided by Kristin Lundgren from team The Author Visits.
One part Halo, one part gunslinger, and one part assassin's creed, GunKnight is like no other.
Colt is the last surviving GunKnight, in the sacred order of the Enlightened Fist. He falls to Earth from a high energy, time warp barrier known as, The Scratch. He finds himself lying in the desert 420 years in the future. The planet he once knew is severely altered. He follows a mysterious virtual path, on an unknown mission, encountering extreme dangers. As he recovers his memory, Colt recalls his experiences as a young disciple, at the temple of the Enlightened Fist. The monks of the Bohsai tree, train him and other orphaned children to be GunKnights, an elite squad of noble assassins. Forbidden love grows between Colt and Terra, a clone descendant of a legendary GunLord. They are separated by time and tragedy. Colt becomes a GunKnight, just as the world is decimated. He must unravel the events of the past to understand the future that unfolds before him. It’s a world filled with killer Necro-droids, crazed RifleWraiths, and deadly SandStriders. These trials only prepare Colt, to face the real monster that dwells at the end of the path.
A young street rat (he eats rats) hides next to his dead mother, hiding from bigger, nastier youth. A girl hides with him. After danger has passed, Astra says she's off to the temple to find out why there are rumors swirling, and Colt decides to go along. His mother wanted him to survive. Astra and Colt wait for days at the temple, hoping the gates will open and some will be allowed in. Street living is not what it's cracked up to be.
Eventually the door opens, and a monk comes out and chooses some of the children. Astra boldly confronts the monk - she wants to be chosen too, and Colt joins in her entreaties. And so they are chosen. But for what? And why?
This is pure Western SF. The story name, the young boy's name, and who and what they become are all part of a mix of Buddhism and the old West, with a touch of "A Man Called Horse." Guns fly fast and fierce as they are part of the bio-armor these Gunknights wear, and as Colt searches for the truth, he also revisits his past, where he endures many trials as he makes his way upon the path of enlightenment.
The authors have done a remarkable job of world-building in this mash-up of Buddhism, Western themes, and tech that is centuries in the making. The descriptions of the new way of life are solid, the training detailed and precise. The themes ebb and flow around this hi-tech use, the Buddhist way, and the gunslinger's cant.
I enjoyed the story, and loved the fact that although it is part of a series, it was a complete book, something readers demand. No teaser, this is a full-fledged, complete novel. It is first-person POV in the present tense, which works in many ways, the immediacy of everything allowing you to join Colt on his journey, and experience it as he does.
But while I enjoyed it there were certain things that pulled me out. The over use of commas in places that made no sense (and I consider myself a comma abuser). They were everywhere. And words were missing. For ex. "It looks like; he's missing a hat that wears all the time." In this case it was an extra semi-colon, but that is indicative of numerous instances of extra commas, and missing words.
And while the POV present tense provides a "you are there" sense, it also doesn't allow for a lot of descriptions, or appearances. Colt isn't big on thinking about his feelings, or what he hears, sees, unless it is directly about the heart of the story. So the rounding out of the world, and of the characters is lacking. I don't even really know much about how Colt looks, and I like to be able to picture the entire story in my head. And supplemental characters we can get to know are lacking, which can give life to a story, and provide a moral focus, or a humorous touch.
The story jumps around in time. First it's at some unknown point, the next chapter is "10 years before" and the 3rd chapter is "420 years after," and so on. It isn't until you are several chapters in that this makes some kind of sense, but it's never quite fully explained, and the use of amnesia makes it doubly difficult to truly access this world that the authors built, which I would love to roam about in. The constant switching from his young life, to his later life is distracting, as I would forget to read the chapter title of what "year" it was, and would think it was a continuation of the chapter I had just read, when instead it was the past, or the future. This got really hazy as the events in the past came to a head at the same time in the book as the events later on. Sort of dueling focal events.
The use of the POV and amnesia means that for much of the book you don't know the bigger picture. What is the central problem? What/who is good or bad, a problem or a help? But then Colt didn't know either as he struggled to fit the pieces of his puzzle back together - to knit the past with his present.
This is a clean, fade to black story, suitable for 13+ unless you are against all guns, in which case this isn't the book for you. Or if you are really a grammar nut. Even I had a problem, and I usually give new books some leeway. But if you don't mind guns in fiction, or are a gun/tech aficionado, then you will love the descriptions of advanced weaponry and how it works, and the boy turned Gunknight.
I would give it 4 1/2 stars for the plot, and the really nice, descriptive writing, but the errors in editing, and the disconnect I felt drops it down to:
4 gun-metal stars.