Sunday, January 20, 2013

Review: A Kingdom's Fall

A Kingdom's Fall
A Kingdom's Fall by Douglas R. Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Military Science-Fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: fans of dark, depressing, action-oriented stories, military sci-fi/fantasy, great characters and world-building
Trigger Warnings: murder, violence
Animal Abuse: in battle, many horses are fatally injured, often on purpose.

Disclosure: I received a free e-galley ARC from Rhemalda Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: That which survives the initial assault may yet die from the infection left behind.

In the destroyed country of Lithia, the former Gildonese leader of the Lowlands, King Fice, has violently assumed the throne, filling the void left by the Tek destruction of the country. His unnatural powers of sway have become more potent and his influence is far-reaching. 

The Tek invasion has also left a void within the kingdom of Epertase. The war has tested the once-great people and, with the venomous words of men Queen Alina considers friends, Epertase descends into revolution. Alina barely escapes with her life. 

Once again, the kingdom needs a savior. 

And once again Rasi will be forced to unleash the darker part of himself in order to save the woman he loves. 

All is not what it seems. Victory may still mean defeat. The war for Epertase has only begun.

My Thoughts: This is the second book in the Light of Epertase series, following Legend Reborn (review linked here where formatting allowed0. A third book, The Rise of Cridon, is scheduled to be released later in 2013. I have also read Douglas R. Brown’s unrelated urban fantasy, Tamed (review linked here where formatting allowed). I really like his writing style. But I must say: damn, this book was seriously depressing. Be warned—this story is dark and difficult in many ways, but the writing style, and the excellent characters, keep it from being unendurable.

Basically, it starts out dark and keeps growing darker. The series is good, but not for the faint of heart. The various horrific creatures that inhabit Epertase alone make me wonder how anyone lives there without hiding in a fortress. There are plenty of wondrous and unthreatening creatures as well. Then there are animals just like ours. It actually sort of confuses me that there are animals exactly like ours—lions, bears, and deer living all within the same area—and also these weird and horrifying things like hylocks and fishers and orchrids.

It also expresses, better than I ever could, how the cancer of negativity can spread. How lies, told to a few, spread to the many, and how ultimately words—the pen/tongue more powerful than the sword—can destroy everything. Words. For those who claim, “They are only words, they cannot actually hurt you,” I challenge you to read this book and really think about it and see if it doesn’t make you re-think your position.

One thing this author does really well is creating characters we love to hate, like the Teks, Tevin the Third, King Elijah, the symbionts, King Fice, and now Jarreh. The only one of those that had any sort of redemption was Elijah; the rest are just complete and total villains, straight-up evil. While this is not my preferred villain—I rather like a villain to whom I can relate, a person with good intentions that just went wrong—it feels right for this type of book. When one is going to war, one doesn’t want to feel any hint of sympathy for the enemy, nor is one usually granted that sort of internal understanding. However, I’ve seen some really outstanding books—by Weber, Ringo, and Modesitt to name a few—that give us the enemy’s point of view after several books of outright evil, causing a huge shift in perception, and I can’t help hoping that we’ll be granted a similar look into the psyches of some of these villains before the end of the series.

Rasi is sort of an anti-hero, in many ways. He’s often not at all a nice guy, but everything he does he does in order to gain the greater good, or at least his view of it. He is, however, violent and dangerous, and his straps, or tentacles, make him even more so. His berserker rages may be useful in battle, but that sort of low-level anger can be very dangerous if not carefully controlled.

Am I the only person who is so tired of nearly unbeatable enemies that no one—except for maybe one person—can even touch? It’s so unbalanced. It feels more realistic to me if the villain is a bit more evenly set against the hero. These Gildonese are very scary, but I do sort of wish we knew more about them. Why do they all look so sickly and thin? How did such a dangerous race develop? How do they manage to even co-exist with themselves?

This book is for fans of very dark fiction, military sci-fi/fantasy, action-oriented books, but not for the faint of heart.

And now a private message for the author. There will be spoilers, and while they will be hidden on Goodreads, they will be viewable anywhere else, so if you don’t want this to be spoiled, then don’t read this last paragraph. You have been warned.

My Goddess, man, how could you write such an utterly depressing story yet make it so captivating? I hated that you killed off so many of my favorites! At least Alina and the baby survive, but damn... could you have made it any harder for her? Poor child...

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