Posts Tagged ‘Rolencia’

Book Review: The King’s Bastard

 

The King’s Bastard

Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages
Rebellion
June 29, 2010

*Many thanks to Rowena Cory Daniells for sending me a review copy!

The King’s Bastard is the first book in the new fantasy series The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin, which focuses on the lives of several members of the royal house of Rolencia.  Byren Rolen Kingson and his twin brother Lence, the eldest sons of King Rolen and Queen Myrella, have always been close despite their good-natured sibling rivalry.  Being the younger twin, seven minutes stand between Byren and the throne, but he’s never had any interest in ruling the kingdom, preferring to leave the burden to Lence.  But after a strange run-in with a renegade seer, who prophesies that Byren will turn on his twin and claim the crown, and the sudden arrival of their cousin Illien of Cobalt – the bastard son of King Rolen’s brother – Byren senses a growing distance between them.  Illien manipulates, fabricates false evidence, and spins a web of lies, all designed to discredit Byren and gain the confidence of Lence and the king.

The story is also told by the younger royal children, Fyn and Piro, who are both god-touched with Affinity.  Fyn’s Affinity was discovered when he was six years old and, in accordance with his father’s law, he was sent away to Halcyon Abbey to learn to control it so he wouldn’t be susceptible to evil influence.  Piro’s lay dormant until she reached puberty and, sick at the thought of being sent away to serve the cold god Sylion, she swore to keep her Untamed Affinity a secret so she could stay with her family at Rolenhold.

It’s a crucial time in Rolencia, when the spar warlords renew their oaths of allegiance to the king and a new alliance will be forged with the neighboring kingdom of Merofynia with the betrothal of Lence and Isolt Merofyn Kingsdaughter.  But alliances are fragile and some would stop at nothing to gain control and rise to the top.  Byren is surrounded by treachery and deceit and the constant fear that the prophecy of the renegade seer will come to pass.

I absolutely loved reading this book.  It was thrilling and suspenseful with enough humor and emotion to draw me even more into the story and invest in the characters.  The world-building was fantastic and I appreciated that I wasn’t bombarded right off the bat by dozens of confusing place-names and ancient history, just enough to give me a sense of my surroundings and then get on with the story.  I was fascinated by the concept of Affinity, how it seeps up from the ground, attracting creatures like leogryfs and manticores, and dwells inside people granting them magical abilities and a glimpse of the Unseen world. 

Of all the characters, I connected most with Byren and Piro.  Byren is a born leader, strong and dedicated to his friends and family.  When his best friend Orrade is disinherited by his father for being a lover of men, Byren tries to cover for him even though it could mean losing the love of Orrie’s sister, Elina.  My frustration when he was wrongfully accused of being a Servant of Palos and plotting against his father was so tangible I could practically taste it.  I wanted to slap some sense into the king and throttle Illien.  Piro is a little firecracker.  She’s strong-willed and fiercely protective of her family.  She reminds me a little of Arya Stark from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.  In fact, the whole time I read this book I was reminded of that beloved series and I half-expected Jon Snow to charge around bend followed by his faithful direwolf. 

I’m always game for court intrigue and the battle for thrones so The King’s Bastard was a perfect match for me.  I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book!

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