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In the Eye of Heaven    by David Keck Amazon.com order for
In the Eye of Heaven
by David Keck
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover
*   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In the Eye of Heaven is a somewhat rambling fantasy set in a crowded and brutal medieval world where knights and their subordinates jockey for position. Its hero, Durand is a young man whose future seems at first assured. Though a younger son, he's about to be knighted and will inherit Gravenholm, whose own heir was lost at sea and is believed to be dead by his grieving father.

The story's spooky start - as Durand and his lord, Sir Kieren, journey on Traveler's Night - sets the tone. The young man feels that 'the Powers of Heaven and Hell were stepping between the trees, full of death and promises, with their eyes on his neck.' There are strange encounters, fey powers, prodigies and omens. Then the bad luck begins. Gravenholm's heir returns from the dead, leaving Durand without a position in life. He hits the road and enters into a series of loosely connected encounters, both real and otherworldly. There are hints that he may be an ancient hero reborn, Bruna by name.

Durand signs on with a captain in the train of Lord Radomar, who finds out he's been cuckolded and takes a cruel revenge. An unwilling participant, our hero eventually flees this lord's service to inform the lady's father of her fate, and of the treacherous plans he has overheard. He wanders on, rescues a mysterious young woman, and falls in with another band, hired by a young lord, who seeks to redeem past actions by fighting in a series of tournaments as the anonymous Red Knight. There's plenty of action against real and otherworldly foes, and Durand is granted a token and a boon by the Lady of the Bower - that he later uses to good effect.

Though In the Eye of Heaven has all the right elements - an underdog of a hero, magic, a forbidden love, and a realm at risk - I had trouble finding the story amid all the action and strange encounters. The style reminded me somewhat of Gene Wolfe's in his Wizard Knight series, and I recommend it mainly to those who enjoy this type of fantasy.

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