(The Kinsman Chronicles, #1)
by Jill Williamson
Adult Christian Fantasy
Published April 5, 2016 by Bethany House
My Review of King’s Folly
I fell in love with Jill Williamson’s Blood of Kings trilogy, so it was with great delight that I learned of this prequel-series of sorts, The Kinsman Chronicles, of which KING’S FOLLY is the first installment. I’m so excited for another fantasy work from this author! I’ve enjoyed her other books — frankly, her writing would shine on a cereal box — but (personally) I think her real genius lies in this genre, and you can see it in every page of this latest novel.
KING’S FOLLY sucked me in at once and never let me go till the last page… and even then I’m pretty sure I sometimes felt like I was still inside the book. Not your typical fantasy-world, there was more sand and less green, and it made me think a bit of Prince of Persia (which is a high compliment, coming from me!). Now, with the darkness and creepiness of it, the world of KING’S FOLLY is not one I’d like to LIVE in… but still. 😉 Diverse and original, it felt like nothing I’d read before, while at the same time I enjoyed the few little hints we got of the things to come which I remember from the Blood of Kings books, like Shields and some of the names like Hadar. I can’t wait to see where it all goes! (Though you don’t have to have read the other series to read this one.)
The writing is incredible. It made for that wonderful moment where you just go “wow, that is GOOD writing” and proceed to lose yourself in its quality. The world is fantastically well-drawn, the cultures and languages and settings and peoples and legends… Politics and complex situations and character relationships are all crafted brilliantly, with the multiple storylines seamlessly weaving together into a massive epic of a fantasy tale. It’s off to a great start which I can’t wait to continue with the next book!
There are SO many characters in this thing, and it was fun to sort them all out and follow their stories. I’ll admit that I gave up on keeping track of all the side-character names fairly early on, which wasn’t usually a problem since I could at least keep the main people straight. (The character list of some of them, as well as the map, were much-referred-to by me as I read, and very helpful.) Though I must say that near the end, there were a few people I was rather confused about… but I think I did all right.
We start out with four or five main points of view (though more are added later) and it was fascinating to get the story from all their perspectives. It was really well constructed, too! They all had a different feel to them, which was awesome. (I didn’t like Charlon’s chapters, though. Not only for their content, but also because they were composed almost entirely of short, punchy sentence-fragments. It was very effective to get across her fragmented character, but I felt like my head was being pounded open. Though that was probably just me.)
Characters tend to make or break a novel for me lately, and these were awesome and SO well-written. I loved many of the characters, and it would take all day to talk about them all, but three stand out as my favorites. Prince Wilek and Prince Trevn — that’s a given! — and then Kalenek, Wilek’s Shield. So many awesome characters! And all so different, too.
- In his mid-twenties, Wilek is sort of the serious-type, responsible-prince sort of fellow, and you just can’t help but root for him and feel for him. I love Wilek! He’s a very relatable hero. And just… gaaah, poor guy, all the stuff he has to go through. I think he needs a hug. ❤
- Fifteen-year-old Trevn is in some ways Wilek’s opposite, but I love him too. He’s so FUN! Energetic, mischievous, cocky, funloving, a bit of a trickster and a rebel, he’s definitely a favorite. He runs across rooftops! What is not to love. Though he has his own problems, too, and his parts of the story were definitely exciting.
- Kalenek surprised me as a favorite character. The scarred bodyguard (or “Shield”) of Prince Wilek, Kal has some struggles of his own and an intriguing tragic past. I was so excited to start getting his point-of-view chapters in the second part of the book, and I’m very much looking forward to learning more about him!
I did almost knock a star off my five-star rating for some of the content, since it was a rather dark book and there were some parts that made me a bit uncomfortable. The book could be dark, creepy at times, a bit brutal, and somewhat mature, and of course the whole point is very much about the cultures having slipped far from the right paths and the true God. It was necessary to the plot, I suppose, but I still could have done without some of it (particularly Charlon’s chapters). However, it is after all listed as Adult Fiction, and it was all handled rather well, so on the whole I still enjoyed it in spite of all that. Just don’t pick it up expecting a lighthearted tale, and I would vaguely caution younger teens against reading KING’S FOLLY — try the Blood of Kings trilogy first! 🙂
But another thing I was very happy about was the amount of fun and humor slipped in amidst the darkness. Humor, great dialog and character interactions are some of my favorite things to read about, and KING’S FOLLY had a fair dose of all of those, brilliantly done, which I loved! So despite some of the grimness, it was still fun, which makes me a happy reader. (Speaking of things that make me laugh, all of the parts with the camels are hilarious — who knew camels could be such amusing characters? — and of course, not to be forgotten, there are also Wilek’s mother’s tiny dogs. XD)
Some of the end rushed a bit too quickly for me, and I found myself wishing to know a bit more concretely some of what was going on; but then, I suppose chaos is to be expected… Ahem. I wouldn’t say the ending was exactly a cliff-hanger, precisely? But it’s definitely ready for a sequel, and I simply can’t wait for the next book to see what’s going to happen with all these characters! *excited flailing*
Overall, KING’S FOLLY is a well-written and fabulous, if somewhat dark, epic fantasy read with a plethora of characters you’ll fall in love with and an original world to get lost in. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to Book 2 of The Kinsman Chronicles, KING’S BLOOD.
Note: This book was also released in ebook form, divided into three ebooks, of which the first one (Darkness Reigns) is available for free online if you’d like to check it out. (Part 2 is called The Heir War, and Part 3, The End of All Things. …Which made for me making some comparison jokes such as “I’m glad to be with you, Wilek Hadar, here at the end of all things.” 😉 Ah, the fun!)
My thanks to Bethany House for the complimentary copy of KING’S FOLLY which I received in exchange for my honest review. These opinions are entirely my own.
About the Book
The gods are angry.
Volcanic eruptions, sinkholes, ground shakers–everything points to their unhappiness. At least that is what the king of Armania believes. His son, Prince Wilek, thinks his father’s superstitions are nonsense, though he remains the ever dutiful heir apparent to the throne.
When a messenger arrives and claims that the town of Farway has been swallowed by the earth, the king sends Wilek to investigate. But what Wilek discovers is more cataclysmic than one lost city. Even as the ground shifts beneath his feet, Wilek sets out on a desperate journey to save his people and his world. But can he do it before the entire land crumbles?
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About the Author
Jill Williamson is a chocolate-loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms and the award-winning author of several teen novels including By Darkness Hid (fantasy) and Captives (dystopian). She’s a Whovian, a Photoshop addict, and a recovering fashion design assistant, who grew up in Alaska without electricity. She currently lives with her husband and two children in Eastern Oregon, where there are more deer and cows than people. She blogs for teen writers at www.goteenwriters.com. You can also visit her online at www.jillwilliamson.com, where adventure comes to life.