Book Review: The Kings Bastard

Australia has had numerous imports into the world of fantasy - Karen Miller, Glenda Larke ( Stormlord Series ) Rowena Cary Daniels comes from the same lineage of such illustrious authors. And this marks the debut of an ambitious series. I know I'm late to the party as this book came out a few years ago, Rowena has gone on to write some fairly explosive stuff as follow up on this one, making her a major figure in the fantays literay landscape but this definitely ain't gonna be on my A-lister. It's a solid effort no doubt and I enjoyed it to a fairly large extent. But I do have some reservations. Maybe blame the forces of Joe Abercrombie or some of the publishing houses like Night Shade Books that pack a punch with some noteworthy debuts that literally force you to drop very thing else and get sucked into them. So when recommendations on Goodreads mentioned this as a "Good Book" naturally my expectations were pretty sky high.

Coming down to the book itself, standard High Fantasy tale rife with court intrigue, a delightful system of magic and a lot of wonderful new magical beasts : That is probably how I would remember this one.The story is set in the kingdom of Rolencia where winter is ending and with change over of seasons, the walls between different worlds is thinnest and magic from the other worlds, known as Affinity is seeping into this world. Courtesy Affinity, the kingdom of Rolencia is full of magical beasts, most dangerous and deadly. the story is mainly told from the POV of three major characters, the Kings children : Byren Kingson, the twin brother to the heir, Lence, their younger brother Fynns who has Afinity and hence has to be brought up in the Abbey, something akin to the Shaolin Monks Where they are taught to control the magic and become the chief fighting force for the kingdom. And the youngest, fiercely loyal Piro, a young firecracker of a girl all of thirteen but already devious and clever enough to meddle into the Kings political affairs. Into this pretty family comes the Kings Nephew from a brother earlier disowned by the king, Illnien Cobalt, spreading poison into the this tranquil household. tension developes as Lence, the heir gets influenced by their cousin and starts to develope megalomaniacal delusions of grandeur.

I like my fantasy drenched in blood and gore, politicking and intrigue is fine as long as it builds up to a fine climax soaked in blood and some body count. But well, while Kings Bastard has its fair share of action, it sorely lacks the punch. The opening chapter itself starts with a hunt and a prophesy, setting things up pretty nicely for what was to follow. Easy lucid and fresh writing - Clearly writing dialogs and plotting is Rowena's forte. And in spite of some wayward writing and clear lack of logic at certain instances, I was swept into the narrative. A cornerstone of any fantasy tale is the world building and Rowena handles this pretty adeptly, giving us back stories and explaining titbits of this strange magical world, while leaving us with some juicy bits to be explored, am assuming in the forthcoming titles. A major grouch for me was the character building. While its straight forward as to who the negative characters are, the "heroes" aren't that impressive. Byren obviously has the Lin share of responsibility to move this story forward and is easily the character that was s up to win the readers heart, I found him a little too boring. earnestly straightforward, too strong and too much of a winner, with most things going right for him. His younger brother Fynn is probably more of an interesting character snce he's got mountains of problems to deal with. stuck alone in n Abbey where the other other boys and even some monks are set to make life difficult for him. Piro is clearly Rowena's tribute to GRRM's Arya Stark. Modelled very closely on the young firebrands character from Song of Ice and Fire.

Enough said, she provides for some interesting conflicts and gets the plot racing forward. don't get me wrong - this probably is like a miniature GRRM in case of the court intrigue, but minus the fantastic action that GRRM revels in. and that for me, was the dampener. for me, if characters stop their fights to start talking mushy nonsense, I would rip their heads away. You are in the middle of a bloody sword fight, you gotta conserve our breath and get out or get killed. You don't stop to talk!!!! anyways, a decent read if you are getting into this Genre. two and a half stars.


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