cover image Knight Watch

Knight Watch

Tim Akers. Baen, $16 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-982124-85-4

Akers (Bulletproof Air) merges magic and the mundane in an uninspired chosen one fantasy that attempts to do for live action role-play gaming what Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One did for video games but fails to update any of the tired tropes it employs. LARP fighter John Rast is home for the summer before his final year of college and eager to compete at his local renaissance faire. But when his opponent, Kracek the Hosier, transforms into a fire-spitting serpent in the middle of their fight, John winds up facing a real dragon with his blunted sword and prop shield. He rises to the occasion, tossing the weapons aside and running the beast over with his mother’s station wagon. John’s victory puts him on the radar of the Knight Watch, an organization that keeps tabs on mythical entities, and they recruit him onto the team. But Kracek’s widow, the Storm Goddess, is out for blood and willing to destroy everything John holds dear to get to him. Akers boldly treads the line between fantasy and reality, but the pacing drags between familiar character beats and cheesy villain monologues. There’s plenty of wish fulfillment here, but not much substance. (Sept.)

Correction: The author's last name was misspelled in an earlier version of this review.