Lady Ayla is threatened with either marriage to the powerful, conquering lord Margrave von Falkenstein or for her lands to be confiscated and her people killed in war. With her father ailing from a long-term degenerative condition, she has assumed command of his lands in his stead. She refuses the Margrave's offer of marriage, knowing that it will mean war, because she realizes giving into him is the wrong decision to make for herself and her people. On a trip through a nearby forest to notify her vassals of her need for men to protect Luntberg Castle and its villagers, she is robbed by the fearsome, dreaded, red-armor-wearing Robber Knight, who dares to take her money, property and her beloved horse, although he spares her life and doesn't harm a hair on her head. Lady Ayla vows to see him caught and hanged.
When Ayla and her steward find a sole-surviving, wounded man in a field of bloody, mutilated bodies, they bring him back to the castle. His name is Reuben, and he claims to be a merchant, but he is really the same Red Knight. If he reveals his identity, he will be hanged as a thief. And he is too weak to flee for his life from his wounds and a subsequent fever and infection. As he is nursed back to health by the beautiful Lady Ayla, his cynicism and overpowering self-interest gives way to love. Can Ayla keep her people safe from a deadly siege, and avoid falling for a man below her station who she believes is not telling her the whole truth about his identity?
The Robber Knight is an entertaining trip back in time to the medieval era. The narrative voice is lively, with subtle humor and vivid characterizations. Reuben is the perfect rogue character, a man who hasn't decided if he wants to take the trouble to be a better man again, until Lady Ayla shows him he is capable of it. Ayla is sweet and determined, a woman of her times. Beneath her ladylike exterior, she has the heart of a lion and a backbone of steel. The secondary characters, such as the old vassal but still capable knight and fighter, Sir Isenbard, are well-developed.
Mr. Thier clearly has a background in medieval history, and a talent for writing a story that is enlightening about the period, but in a very entertaining, readable fashion. The depiction of medieval castle warfare is lifelike and realistic without being overly graphic. The reader learns the ins and outs of protecting a castle against invaders alongside Lady Ayla, and her people, most of whom have lived in a time of peace and whose war skills are limited to non-existent. I cheered along with them as they survived numerous assaults due to the advice of the injured Reuben.
Readers who enjoy romance stories will appreciate the slow build of attraction and feelings between Ayla and Reuben. The author makes the most of their every moment together to show romantic tension and growing love between the characters.
The Robber Knight is a story that will appeal to readers who have interest in the medieval period. It's an edifying read, flows and keeps the reader's interest with engaging characters and a well-paced narrative. This reader recommends it, despite the fact that the cliffhanger ending pricks at one of the biggest pet peeves of mine.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
*Reviewed by guest reviewer, Danielle Hill.
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