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The Ruby Knight is the second novel in the Elenium, a trilogy featuring a knight called Sparhawk. The books are written by David Eddings.
David Eddings was an American fantasy writer who lived in the Seattle area of Washington State, USA. He wrote a couple of contempory novels before moving into the fantasy arena with his epic five novel series called The Belgariad. He continued the success with The Mallorean, and a pair of trilogies about a magic wielding knight. After these novels, his quality rather waned and his latter novels were criticised for repetition. He passed away in 2008.
The Ruby Knight is as I've said the second book in the series and it follows The Diamond Throne.
The Diamond Throne
Sir Sparhawk, a knight returns from exile at the moment his queen has been poisoned by her head churchman Annias. The queen is dying and has been protected by a spell encasing her in diamond by Sparhawks pandion house magician Sephrenia. She has powered the spell using the life forces of 12 knights, one will die every month and the spell cannot be renewed so the queen will die if Sparhawk can't find a magical object capable of saving her. The book ends when Sparhawk finally isolates a magical gem called The Bhelliom and a quest to retrieve the gem ensues. They are hunted by agents of Annias and doubts over the ability of the gem to reverse the poison.
The Ruby Knight
Sparhawk has identified the magical device capable of sparing his queen; this novel turns into an investigation of the whereabouts of the gem. We are introduced to the dwarf troll called Ghwerig who carved the gem, we also find out about why it has magical ability and how Ghwerig lost the gem. So the story cracks along at a decent pace, because there is the spell keeping the queen alive the action is therefore fast paced and edged with tension over the importance of their actions.
The first half of the novel is probably the better half, we have the classic travelling fantasy quest with a lot of history of the world and where the Bhelliom has gone too. Eddings is clever in that he puts the gem into the crown of a king of antiquity, as soon as he does that he can recreate a kind of King John style 'lost jewels" hunt. He does help himself by making the king impossibly tall and you do start to get annoyed by the constant references to the king being a hand taller than average, ok we get the point he's TALL!!
The books ends with a set piece encounter between the group and Ghwerig and the outcome of the quest for the gem. There are elements of lord of the rings in the quest for the gem; there are stories over gods, treachery and the notion of magic. The book is let down by the obvious placement of flute, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to work out what she's doing in the novel.
Eddings covers the basics with a knight with magical ability, battling gods and plenty of fighting but as with The Diamond Throne there are clear overlaps in the characters in this novel and characters from the Belgariad/Mallorean. This echo starts to grate after a while and you wish Eddings could come up with something original, even Ghwerig the malformed dwarf troll is just too nice, and you feel sorry for him rather than fear him.
This book clears the storyline from the Diamond Throne and keeping the corrupt churchman and evil overseas nations means that the final novel will be explosive but as a retrospective review of three books written 20 or so years ago this is my favourite of the three novels in the Elenium.
Bhelliom, lost in myth and legend, is the key to his queens future, now Sparhawk has to find it. Queen Ehlana remains at deaths door, encased in the spell that preserves her life. The Pandion knight Sparhawk has discovered her poisoner, but one thing only will cure that which endangers her, a mystical gem known as Bhelliom. As the Knight Champions of all the militant orders join Sparhawk in his quest for the mysterious gem, the Elder God Azash turns his attention fully on the companions. The ghost of Ehlanas father has may have revealed Primate Annais as the poisoner of the queen, but our hero must seek the cure before he seeks his revenge, but he must find it quickly. The spell sustaining the young queen is a limited one, the knight?s mentor, the Styric magician Sephrenia bears the weight of sacrifice, as each of those twelve knights who cast the spell with her meet their end and visit her with one more burden, one which only she can carry. Sparhawk, queens champion, knight of the church, travels across the land seeking Bhelliom, with few clues to help him, as he struggles with each of the titles that lay upon his shoulders. Joining him in this journey are some of the greatest heroes in the land, Kalten, a Pandion Knight like Sparhawk, with brawn not brains his forte, Berit, a young Pandion Knight, Kurik his squire, Talen, a young but exceptional thief, Kurik, Sparhawks squire, Sephrenia, the Pandion tutor and the champions of the other knights militant, Tynian, Bevier, Ulath and the strange child Flute, who communicates with hugs, kisses and her sheperds pipes. The party is besieged by obstacles, from magical creatures to insane dukes who war upon each other, but they press on, raising the dead, annoying the church and displeasing several Gods along the way. Sparhawk travels towards his queens cure, his destiny and the future of the very world.