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“We are knights. Sanity does not enter into it. We must stop Morgause,” Erec –Knights vs. Monsters
Knights vs. Monsters
by Matt Phelan
A group of knights has fought dinosaurs, but now they are searching for the holy grail. Sirs Erec, Bors, Hector, the fearsome Black Knight Magdalena, and Mel the archer are all ready for a real adventure. So, when an enchanted ship appears, they do the only thing that makes sense—they board it.
The ship takes them to the Orkney Isles, where Queen Morgause plans their demise. Once the knights are out of the way, she can dethrone King Arthur. With the help of her children, Queen Morgause puts her plan into action. Each night when the sun sets, a mist will bring a hoard of monsters. As the knights face the monsters and try to keep the village safe, they must defeat a vampire, werewolves, ogres, and a host of other strange and terrible creatures.
The exploits of the knights began in Knights vs. Dinosaurs, but the tone of Knights vs. Monster is darker and more sinister. In order to kill the knights, Queen Morgause uses her black magic to conjure deadly monsters. While the first book in the series focused on the knights learning the importance of working together, Knights vs. Monster highlights the gloomy Scottish island, and a mother who is willing to sacrifice her children in order to gain more power. Adding Queen Morgause to the plot kills the humorous banter of the knights which helped make Knights vs. Dinosaurs so enjoyable.
Like the first book in the series, Knights vs. Dinosaurs blends graphic-style illustrations with a unique adventure. Black-and-white illustrations are scattered throughout the pages, and there are several graphic-novel style battles that are illustrated over multiple pages. The story is fast-paced, gloomy, and full of surprises. However, some of the monsters seem out of place. For example, a vampire appears and bites a woman and Erec then conveniently steps in a sunbeam and disintegrates. Once the vampire disappears, there is no mention of what happens to the people who were bitten. The story arch ends abruptly, leaving the reader to wonder how the scenes fit into the overall story.
The knights engage in battle after battle, but unlike Knights vs. Dinosaurs, the characters do not learn from their experiences. The story ends with an epic battle that brings the villagers, the knights, and most of Queen Morgause’s children together to defeat evil. The introduction of the Scottish mythological creature the nuggle adds interest to the end battle. Knights vs. Dinosaurs should be read first, because it introduces all of the main characters, and understanding the characters’ backgrounds will increase the reader’s enjoyment. Even though Knights vs. Monsters has a darker tone, readers will still enjoy the action-packed scenes and the fight between good and evil. Anyone interested in King Arthur or the battle between good and evil should pick up Knights vs. Monsters; the unique story will not disappoint.
- While on a boat looking for the holy grail, monsters appear out of the mist. “An enormous hairy arm with fiendish claws burst from the mist and sliced Erec’s garment. . .”
- As the Black Knight was searching, “an enormous tentacle whipped through the mist and wrapped around her legs, knocking her to the ground. She dropped her sword but still held the knife. The Black Knight slashed at the tentacle but could not quite reach it. . . An arrow pierced the tentacle. The mysterious beast roared.”
- While at sea, a kraken attacks the ship. “The crew held on to whatever they could grab as the kraken pitched the ship through the air. It landed hard in the water, splintering on impact.”
- After landing on an island, a brute kicked Erec.
- Monsters attack a village, and the group of knights go to the village to help. “Screams, yells, gasps, and various breaking noises filled the thick air. They approached the village gate, and the strange mist swallowed them. Cries for help seemed to come from every direction.”
- When Mordred tries to stop Mel from joining her friend in the fight, she shoots an arrow at him. “Mel’s arrow pinned Mordred’s sleeve to the oak wardrobe behind him.”
- While helping the village, “Hundreds of small, big-eyed, biting creatures swarmed Erec, pulling his clothes, nibbling his ears, and dragging him backwards until he tumbled over the wall. . . Erec thrashed, tossing several beasties against the wall. But more came. More always came.”
- A monster attacks Magdalena. “The monster growled, struggled to its feet, and swung its ax.” Bors joins the fight and “he buried his sword in the monster a second before its ax reached the Black Knight.”
- During a conversation, Gareth calls Magdalena a traitor. Then, “Magdalena’s leg swiped out so fast no one was sure what happened. But Gareth was flat on his back in the road with Magdalena standing over him.”
- Monsters take over the village at nighttime, and the knights try to defend the city. “Erec chased a nasty-looking goblin through the village, finally cornering it by a wall and slaying it. . .” As Erec walked towards a house with a lit candle, he saw Greer sleeping. “And a rail-thin, pale figure with a bald high-domed head, pointed ears, and wide eyes was leaning over her. Its lips parted, exposing two long, sharp fangs. With a rat-like squeak, the fiend bit Greer on the neck. . . Erec lunged, but the monster held up one hand, its long, spidery fingers outstretched. An invisible force threw Erec back.” The monster uses his magic to drag Erec around until Eric is able to break the spell. “It squealed as they scuffled. Erec got a few good punches in.” The fiend changed into a bat, bit Erec, and was eventually defeated when a sunbeam touched it. “The fiend disintegrated into a small pile of dust.” The scene takes place over five pages.
- A man pressed a dagger against Erec’s throat.
- The bi-clops wakes up and “its mighty hand shot out and grabbed Bors by the throat. Mel rolled out of the way as the bi-clops tossed Bors against the rocks. It stood and the monstrous head roared. . . The bi-clops lifted Bors off the ground, held him high above its heads, and prepared to throw him over the cliffs.” Mel shoots the bi-clops, and “the creature gasped, dropping Bors to the ground. For a moment it wavered, then fell by the rocks.” The battle takes place over three pages and when it is finished, Bors is back to himself.
- A giant appears and threw a man over a hill. “More monsters came. They were all sizes and shapes. Some had flaming heads. Some had no heads at all. . . All stood frozen as the colossal, unspeakable horror oozed out of the rubble, tentacles flailing, the din of a thousand screams blasting out. . . The Horror rose to full height and then paused suddenly. . .The blade of a sword slicked out from inside the belly of the beast. The Black Knight emerged, covered in slime but victorious.” The battle takes place over three pages.
- Using magic Queen Morgause “pointed at Gorp and flicked her wrist. Mist engulfed him in an instant, lifted him from the ground, and blew him over the cliff’s edge to the sea below. . . Morgause snapped her fingers. A galloping sound echoed from the moors. . .” Nuggles appear and when Queen Morgause runs, the knights climb on the nuggles’ backs and give chase. The scene takes place over seven pages.
- When the knights chase Queen Morgause, a ship appears. When Mel tried to board the ship, “the nuggle dove under the waves. Mel slipped from its back, but the nuggle’s seaweed tail wrapped around her leg and dragged her down into the darkness.” Merlin appears and helps the knights.
- Morgause creates a whirlpool, but Merlin “leapt from the boat. A great whale surfaced and Merlin landed upon its back, riding the whale toward Morgause and the whirlpool. . . the whale’s mighty tail slapping the water and knocking the nuggle over. Morgause and Mordred hung on. Merlin and the whale attacked again. As they fought, both the nuggle and the whale were sucked into the center of the whirlpool. It swirled and churned around them.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Bors calls one of his companions a “dunderhead.”
- Bors tells Erec, “But you’re out as leader if you make any boneheaded decisions.”
- The group of knights takes a ride on an enchanted ship.
- A man transforms into a beast. “The man’s tunic was, in fact, ripping open, his body contorting, fur sprouting all over him. His nose had grown long like a snout, his eyes turned golden, his teeth sharpened into fangs.”
- Some of the monsters include a vampire, sword-wielding skeletons, and winged harpies. Mordred makes a potion that turns Hector into a bi-clops, which is a two-headed cyclops.
- Queen Morgause goes into the center of the circle of stones and uses magic. “She raised her arms slightly, and the stones began to glow with a sickly green light. Mist swirled at her feet, rising slowly from the ground.”
- Queen Morgause conjured nuggles, which are like horses but “its hooves were webbed and clawed. But it was the eyes that most set the creature apart. The eyes of the beast were not at all the kind, thoughtful eyes of a horse. They were black, empty, remorseless eyes of a shark.”