Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Review: Blood of the King (Khirro’s Journey 1), by Bruce Blake

This was the Indie Book Club’s Book of the Month for August over at Goodreads.

The story, unsurprisingly, follows a chap called Khirro. He’s an ex-farmer who joined the army. His heart’s in the right place but his military aptitude is, er, sub-optimal. Unfortunately, the battle he’s in goes badly. Due to a combination of blind luck and patriotism he manages to save the King (in a manner of speaking), but has to travel to the fearsome Necromancer to have him fully restored.

The book, especially early on, moves at a fast pace, which I rather like. The author’s also not afraid to kill off significant characters, which is another aspect of the writing that appeals to me. The writing style’s easy to read and I often ended up reading rather more than I had expected.

The characters were slightly mixed. Khirro’s convincing as a good farmer but a poor soldier, and although he gradually becomes a little less whiny and a bit tougher there’s no miraculous transformation into a hard as nails hero.

There’s a nice rivalry dynamic between two of his companions, and a cunning twist regarding the magician who travels with them. However, Elyea did come across as a little bit flat.

I won’t spoil the ending, but the most action-packed section of it seemed to ring a bit false. One ‘twist’ was easy to see coming (not necessarily a bad thing) but the way the violence turned out seemed a bit off (not excessive or explicit, just unconvincing). I can’t say more without spoiling it, obviously.

I also think the author made a slight mistake early on. Not sure if it’d count as a spoiler (it happens probably within the sample range) so I won’t detail it, but he gives away a plot element I think would’ve been better kept hidden.

The journey to the Necromancer is interesting, particularly when they get nearer and encounter some more interesting flora and fauna. I never felt bored with the book, and will probably buy the sequel (having checked on Amazon, it seems the trilogy can be bought altogether in a single e-book for less than the individual bits).


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