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Knight Awakened: Circle of Seven #1    by Coreene Callahan order for
Knight Awakened
by Coreene Callahan
Order:  USA  Can
Montlake, 2012 (2012)
Softcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

In Callahan's recent Dragonfury series, she placed a brotherhood of hunky dragon shifters into modern day Seattle, where they try to defeat their long-time rivals while trying to keep mortals unaware of their presence.

In her second paranormal series, set in a land resembling Transylvania, Callahan's heroes are not dragons, but rather a band of assassins, conscripted as young children and turned into killing machines by a power-hungry leader (perhaps a bit of a nod to Hassan-I Sabbah, the leader of the first cult of Hashishin circa 1122?)

Xavian Ramir is tired of his years of servitude to Al Pacii, and breaks away from the assassin's cult, taking others with him. While he still takes on jobs, he can afford to be picky. He's currently been tasked to deliver Afina Lazar to Vladamir Barbu, who believes that his possession of her, and her magic, will finally allow him to claim the crown of Transylvania.

Xavian on the other hand, finds himself immediately drawn to the secretive young woman and her daughter. Though he needs Barbu's coin to help finance other liberations from his former cult, he's not about to hand over the young woman without a fight. And now that she's under Xavian's protection, Afina finally feels confident enough to call upon her long-suppressed magical powers and bring light back to a country that is being smothered by evil.

Callahan's mythology and storyline had enough unique touches to keep me turning the pages and looking forward to the next instalments. Xavian and Afina are entertaining and spunky characters and their romance well done, if perhaps a bit one-sided for a little too long. There are even a few cursed dragon-shifters to keep things interesting.

What I found jarring was the author's habit of switching the tone of her characters' dialogue mid-sentence from medieval to modern. Several of the present-day slang phrases seem lifted right out of the Dragonfury series. The story was also a bit top-heavy with characters; Callahan might have wanted to introduce all her upcoming male leads at once, but add in a plethora of secondaries and the character congestion made it hard to keep track sometimes.

Overall, though, Knight Awakened is an entertaining and action-packed first instalment to a nifty new historical paranormal series.

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