3.5 stars (release date June 23, 2020)
This is a good first book in a new fantasy series. The concept is interesting but the book’s pacing is uneven, and at 608 pages, it needed better editing.
This is the story of Michael Kingman. He and his siblings were branded as traitors after their father killed the 9 year old son of the King. Ten years later, Michael and his sister are living a hand-to-mouth existence trying to survive and take care of their institutionalized mother. Michael’s older brother Lyon has been conscripted to the King as one of the court’s executioners. Michael scrapes by conning minor nobles out of money with his friends, which has the added bonus of striking back at the world that rejected him and his family.
A lot of nobles have various forms of magic. The magic system is not fully explained, but it seems that magic is fueled by the user’s memories. If the user is untrained, or uses too much magic, the user loses some of their memories. Michael doesn’t appear to have any magic ability, but he still has huge gaps in his memories and doesn’t know why. Michael is presented with an opportunity to earn money and discover if he has magic and if so, how to use it. The opportunity comes with risks, however, and the person offering it is a dangerous and untrustworthy man. It also requires him to return to Court and mingle with the very people that rejected him and his family. Michael’s life is further complicated by rebels that are plotting to overthrow the King in his dead father’s name. He is accused of being a traitor and must be careful to avoid having further contact with the law.
This book is told in first person, which is not my favorite viewpoint in fantasy novels, but it’s ok here. The world building is a bit uneven, and there is little to no explanation as to the society’s structure, or the kingdom’s standing and history with neighboring lands. Some world building information pops up at odd times in the book. Certain concepts are inserted into the story early, leaving the reader in the dark as to the meaning of the terms or characters, and only later explained closer to the end of the book. While that may work for “surprise” revelations, it doesn’t really work here where the author should be providing information to the reader to understand why something may be important. Considering magic plays a huge part in the book, I thought the author would provide more background and explanation regarding it, but he doesn’t. Perhaps that will be explored in later books.
Another big mystery that is never really explained is parts of the moon that randomly fall and strike the city. Nothing is explained about how or why the moon is “broken”, or how parts of it can strike the city. There is one small mention that the Kingman family “broke” the moon, but it’s not followed up on. I’m assuming it will be explored in later books.
The book starts slow, and drags through the first half. It’s understandable in a first book because of the world building aspect, but as I stated above, the world building is uneven. The last half of the book moves at better pace and I started getting excited to find out what happened next. Overall, I liked the book and will read the next one in the series when it is released.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.