Tuesday, May 31, 2016

King's Folly: Review

Between the earthquakes devastating Armania, his father’s mad attempts to save his crumbling, kingdom, and the strange magic from across the borders, Sâr Wilek hardly knows where to turn.

King’s Folly (The Kinsman Chronicles): Book 1The Five Woes are coming; the end of Armania is at hand…

Like my blogging in general, this review is long overdue. I was actually supposed to post it about a month ago. The reason for the delay actually goes back to March—I got an email from Bethany House with their list of review books for the month. Right at the top of the list was Jill Williamson’s new fantasy novel, King’s Folly.

I was excited to see Williamson starting a new fantasy series after reading a few of her more recent dystopian/sci-fi YA stories. So, of course, I requested a review copy and made it onto the list.

Unfortunately, this happened about a month after moving and changing addresses. Since I didn’t get my address updated in time, my review copy floated off to someone else. (I do hope he or she enjoyed the book as much as I did.)

After waiting over a month, I started investigating and found out what had happened. The result was that I ended up buying my own copy and waiting—again—for it to show up.

Was it worth the complications? I think so.

King’s Folly, the first in Williamson’s Kinsman Chronicles, is a massive, ground-shaking (pun intended) story.

As the King’s oldest son, Sâr Wilek mainly wants to survive the castle politics long enough to be declared his father’s Heir. He’s accompanied by half-a-dozen other major characters, each with their own quest, but all of the action revolves around Wilek.

Wilek is supposed to be the king’s main supporter. If he carries out his role well enough, Rosâr Echad might just anoint Wilek as his heir, and Wilek would be able to change his father’s superstition brutality for a milder rule. The kingdom, however, is falling apart around them as earthquake after earthquake shakes the realm.

Rosâr Echad believes that only sacrifices to the gods can save Armania, but the real secrets and the real corruption lay much deeper in his court than he or Wilek can dream. It will take all of Wilek’s allies to unravel the mystery, and even then they might be too late.

The book does start off a little slow. The first third of the novel focuses mainly on setting up the cast and some of the background to the main story. I actually skipped over the character list at the beginning of the book, since I don’t like reading off a bunch of names before meeting the characters. For this book, that didn’t really matter. Williamson’s first introductions are strong enough to carry the characters through the rest of the story. Everyone was important too, and Williamson makes good use of the various characters’ story-lines, but be warned that there are a ­lot of characters.

Two small caveats:

Darkness Reigns (The Kinsman Chronicles): Part 1First, the specific format may be a little confusing—the Kinsman Chronicles is a trilogy, but each book will have three parts. King’s Folly is the first book in the trilogy, but it was released in three individual ebooks, before being released as a full novel. The first of these ebooks, Darkness Reigns, is available on Amazon for free here. The fourth part, starting off the second novel, will be released in early July.

Second, there is also a lot of sexuality inherent in the plot. None of it is graphic, and Williamson specifically notes that she’s modeling this story after the corrupt kings of Israel, which is a fair comparison for the story. If you’ve read Williamson’s Safe Lands trilogy, you know about what to expect. It is there, though, and I wouldn’t recommend the book to younger readers as a result.

With that said, I did enjoy the story. It met my expectations for a complicated, well-built fantasy novel, while keeping the adventures strong and filling the world with a mix of interesting, believable characters. A few of the characters border on stereotypes—faithful bodyguard, independent female sidekick, etc.—I found the world wonderfully complicated and unique.

I’ll be looking forward to reading what happens next.

[My thanks to Bethany House for sending me a review copy. My address should be correct and up-to-date now, for any future reviews.]


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