Fourteen-year-old Durriken Brishen has lost his parents, his grandfather, and though he doesn't know it, his Gypsy culture's dangerous gift.
Taken in and raised on the rails by the first woman to pilot a freight train, Durriken has one remaining connection to his Romani roots: a small wooden box that hangs from the hammer loop of his overalls.
The last gift he received from his grandfather, the box contains the world's first chess set. But a piece is missing: the Red Queen. According to Durriken’s family lore, the complete set awakens the power of Tărie, a mercurial gift that confers unique abilities on each new Master.
When a suspicious fire erupts in the Chicago rail yard, Durriken's escape produces an uneasy alliance, though not without its silver lining. Dilia is a few inches taller, several degrees cleverer, and oh yes – very pretty. While Durriken is uneasy allying with a girl whose parents were convicted of sedition, there's no doubt she is a powerful partner. And while it's not immediately clear to either, her own Guatemalan culture and family history are deeply entwined with the ancient Romani mystery.
I started to read this a few days ago, but I was very distracted and really struggled to get into it, so I left it a couple of days and tried again today. The start is a bit shaky, but after a few chapters it really started to get interesting. What I really loved was the totally original storyline. Never before have I read an adventure so involved and unique that also wasn't complicated and hard to follow.
This book revolves around the Romani gypsy culture and also has a lot (a lot of a lot) of chess references. This isn't a problem though, even somebody with no knowledge of chess at all would be able to follow the storyline. All this makes the story so interesting, as it's a young adult book dealing with completely different issues to most books on the market.
Something that totally pulled me into this book was the characters. While Dilia and Durriken, the main characters are totally fun and I absolutely adored their romance, my personal favorite character was Casey, Durriken's adopted mother (but not legally) and the first female freight train engineer, she was funny and also the strict mother bear character. The characterisation is one of the strongest parts of this book, as this book follows Durriken and Dilia growing up, which comes across very well.
The romance aspect, though small, is totally adorable. The attraction becomes this love/hate relationship that had me laughing at their interactions.
This book was a totally fun read, the adventure spans the time scale between 1960 and 1965, and travels all the way across the USA on freight trains.
After a bit of a slow start, Gypsy Knights turned out to be an amazing start to an absolutely enthralling story of love, self discovery and family. The amazing adventure and adorable attraction make this one to check out!
Overall rating: A-
Stand alone/series: First in a series (I hope)
Release May 26 2011
Publisher: LoudCloud Publishing (Indie)Book obtained via: Received from the authors for review purposes
:Get this book: