When nerdy Rich Witz unwittingly becomes a Paladin, a white knight, in training, he is thrust into a world where flunking a test can change the course of history and a mysterious bully is playing for keeps with his life.
Rich’s grandmother leaves him with one thing before disappearing for good: a white chess pawn with his initials engraved on it. The pawn marks him as the next in an ancient line of white knights. He must prove himself in a life or death contest against his Nemesis, a dark knight in training, all while dealing with math homework and English projects. With the ghost of an ancestor for his guide, he has seven days to complete four tasks of valor before his Nemesis does, or join his guide in the realm of the dead.
As Rich rushes to complete the tasks, he realizes the chilling truth: his Nemesis is masquerading as someone at school and will stop at nothing to make him fail. As the tasks grow ever harder, the other knights reveal to him that his failure will break a centuries-old chain and bring the Paladin order to ruin. If he fails, the dark knights win the right to control the fate of the world, a world without hope or the possibility of a new dawn. So this is one exam Rich has to ace, with no curve and no extra credit.
What a coincidence. I was looking for some good middle grade books for my boys to read, and then I was offered the chance to read Paladin: Pawn for review.
Paladin: Pawn is the story about a young boy without a lot of confidence in himself who discovers that his ancestors are all Paladins, and he becomes a Knight in training. He must prove himself by completing tasks that prove he is worthy of joining the order.
I think that the Knight theme would appeal very much to most boys and many girls. I liked how Rich’s challenges were everyday challenges that kids often face at school. Through his experiences, kids will learn to believe in themselves and stand up to bullies. I thought those were important lessons for them to learn.
The writing is engaging, and the characters are interesting. The book had a few minor flaws, but I don’t think the intended audience would notice. However, I think the book would have worked better if Rich had been in middle school instead of high school. His character comes across as younger than a sophomore in high school. And, unfortunately, the difficulties that Rich faced could just as easily happen in middle school as high school. Kids these days are pretty savvy and knowledgeable.
Overall, I thought this was a very good book that would help kids build their own confidence.
About the Author:
Michael D. Young is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Western Governor’s University with degrees in German Teaching, Music, and Instructional Design. He puts his German to good use teaching online German courses for High School students. Though he grew up traveling the world with his military father, he now lives in Utah with his wife, Jen, and his two sons. Michael enjoys acting in community theater, playing and writing music and spending time with his family. He played for several years with the handbell choir Bells on Temple Square and is now a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
He is the author of the novels The Canticle Kingdom Series, The Last Archangel Series, and the Chess Quest Series. His also authors several web serials through BigWorldNetwork.com. He publishes anthologies for charity in his Advent Anthologies series. He has also had work featured in various online and print magazines such as Bards and Sages Quarterly, Mindflights, Meridian, The New Era, Allegory, and Ensign.