Book Review: King’s Blood by Jill Williamson

Title: King’s Blood
Author: Jill Williamson
Date read: April 26, 2017
Rating: 2 stars
Genre: Fantasy (Christian)
Age: Adult
Year pub: 2017 (Bethany House)
Pages: 601 (paperback)
Series: The Kinsman Chronicles, #2 (Book 1: King’s Folly. Book 3: King’s War, coming soon)
Fave character: *classified, for reasons which shall be revealed*
Source: Received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from author—many thanks! 🙂
Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor WebsiteMy review of book 1: King’s Folly

My Review

2 stars

Regarding my rating: I’m sorry! I just don’t do well with dark, sad books. So for me personally, I did not end up enjoying this book in the end; but keep in mind that this is only my opinion!

Short version

This book was too dark, gritty, and depressing for me, plus my favorite character got killed off, which is Not Okay.

Longer version

This book was generally well-written, suspenseful, and I enjoyed some parts of it, particularly the occasional humor and three characters who were my favorites and therefore classified.

But when one-third of the people you actually like in a book DIE (after spending 1000+ pages with this character), it’s not a pleasant prospect. -_- This book left me a furious, devastated, sobbing wreck at the end, which rarely happens; and unlike the majority of the reading population (it seems), this did not actually please me and make it an automatic 5-star read. I don’t actually like having my heart torn to shreds and left feeling desolate and without hope. What can I say? I’m weird like that.

The incident of the Not Okay character death wasn’t the only thing; overall, the book is a very heavy read. I know it’s supposed to be an Adult Fantasy book, so I suppose it can get away with grittiness and darkness and other, more mature content, but it was just a little much for me, personally. I’m not a teen anymore, but that doesn’t mean I like reading things like this. (I don’t recommend it to teen readers.) It’s much like King’s Folly in that way, though maybe a bit darker.

If you liked the first book and didn’t mind the darkness and more adult slant of the story, then you’ll probably like this one, so I will not stop you reading it. 🙂 Just be aware that it seemed (to me) like nothing good happens in this for any of the good guys, really; the bad guys triumph a lot, and the idea that Arman (the allegorical God) is in charge and loves them is kind of a laugh, given how awful everything is. It seems like nobody’s in charge except the author making everyone miserable. I’m sure it’ll get better in the last book, and this is just the mid-trilogy hour of darkness? But at the moment it seems like there’s basically no hope and it’s super depressing, honestly. At least, that’s how I see it. Again, just my personal opinion! In general, I think Christian fiction is supposed to lift you up and encourage you, but this one did exactly the opposite for me (even though others might think differently). It’s not just that it’s depressing (yes, there will be dark times for characters in any book) it’s that it’s so long to spend going through 600 pages of darkness like this.

It’s also possible that we’re supposed to feel this way at this point in the saga; perhaps this hopeless feeling is exactly what is intended, so that it can set up for a contrast with some wonderful turn of redemption and eucatastrophe in the final book. Maybe it has to be this dark to show the light that is coming. We shall see. 🙂 (But it’s going to have to be pretty big of a turn-around, is all I’m saying.)

Anyways, don’t let me stop you from reading this if you liked the first one! (Or if you’re interested in reading the first one.) Very likely the rest of the world will like it, and it’s just me, myself, personally, who couldn’t really enjoy it in the end. But this review is meant to be my personal, honest opinion, so there it is. By all means read the series if you wish. 🙂 Just be aware it’s dark, and start with the first book, not this one, because when I started this one, even I had trouble remembering all the characters and stuff going on at first (since it had been a year since I read book 1), though I picked up on things fairly quickly.

Things I Liked

Don’t get me wrong—there were definitely parts of this that I enjoyed!

  1. I liked the first book, and started out really excited for this book and enjoyed it a lot at first. 🙂
  2. I was so happy to be back reading about these characters, who I didn’t realized I’d missed until I was reading about them again.
  3. Sometimes it was funny and made me laugh. 🙂 (A lot of the dialog was great in that respect. :D)
  4. As mentioned, three certain characters were my absolute favorites, and I loved reading about them. ❤
  5. Most of it takes place on ships at sea, which was really interesting (if eventually a bit monotonous because they’re super tired of being stuck at sea. XD).
  6. The writing was good.
  7. I’m almost tempted to slap another star on my rating just for that gorgeous cover. I mean, look at it! I love it. 😀
  8. I was super proud of myself for reading all 600 pages of this thing. XD Nothing like that feeling of accomplishment when you make it through a huge book. 😉
  9. It was super neat to start getting more hints at things moving toward how they are in the Blood of Kings Trilogy. Names, things, places, people… Very cool! Some of those parts were highlights for me. 🙂
  10. Not to give spoilers, but overall, I really liked the stuff near the end there that made it a lot more like the Blood of King’s Trilogy—makes me want to read By Darkness Hid and the rest again! ❤

Conclusion

In closing, this is likely a very good book, by many readers’ standards, and I don’t want to dissuade anyone from reading it, exactly. If you like dark epic fantasy, it may be for you. This is simply my personal feelings on the book. 🙂 It was just too dark for me and ripped my heart out, which I did not appreciate.

I’m still curious to find out what happens, and I look forward to reading King’s War whenever it releases; and after that, re-reading the absolutely awesome Blood of Kings Trilogy. ^_^

(I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book. These opinions are my own.)

So how about you, readers? Have you read any of Jill’s books? (She’s an excellent writer, even if this one didn’t quite make it for me.) Has a beloved character’s death ever tipped the scale in your view of a book? And have you read any good books lately? Let’s chat in the comments! 🙂

(And if you’d like to chat specific spoiler-y aspects of this book, you can do so in the comments of my review on Goodreads, which is the same review as this, but in the comments spoiler tags rule. ;))

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Review: King’s Folly by Jill Williamson

kf2King’s Folly

(The Kinsman Chronicles, #1)

by Jill Williamson

Adult Christian Fantasy

Published April 5, 2016 by Bethany House


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My Review of King’s Folly

5starrating

5 stars

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!

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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!

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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?

Find the Book

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Publisher

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.

Top Ten Tuesday: 2016 Books!

HI EVERYONE. NANO IS OVER AND I SURVIVED. More on that in a later post but right now BOOKS!

See, I know I just posted yesterday already. And I know I’ve been posting constantly for absolutely no reason except that I accidentally became one of “those” people who blogs all the time because apparently I’m addicted?

But ANYWAY that is neither here nor there and the point is that I’ve decided to hop on the Top Ten Tuesdays (by The Broke and the Bookish) bandwagon this week, because BOOKS and LISTS and because this week’s prompt was too good to pass up.

And mostly because NaNo is over so I can think about books and reading again AND I’M JUST SO EXCITED AAAHH LET ME FLAIL AND HUG ALL OF THE BOOKS!

I’ve never done Top Ten Tuesday before but I’ve wanted to ever since I learned about it. IT LOOKS FUN. This week’s prompt is Top Ten 2016 Debut Novels We’re Looking Forward To.

I’m not doing debuts, just books I’m excited about, and I’m doing 12 because that’s how many I know about coming out next year that I want to read, and I’m very much a rebel at this moment… But hey, a couple extra is cool, right?

Heeeere are the 2016-releases lovelies I’m looking forward to, roughly in order of publication date . . .

Yorien’s Hand – Jenelle Leanne Schmidt (January 11, 2016)

Ever since reading Five Enchanted Roses, I’ve wanted more by this author, and I have an ARC for this one and there are dragons and am so excited to read it LET ME FLAIL.


The Goblin’s Puzzle: Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice – Andrew S. Chilton (January 19, 2016)

I don’t even know why I want to read this but I saw a review and it sounds fun and I don’t even know but basically sign me up. Plus, that title? Total win.

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A Spy’s Devotion – Melanie Dickerson (February 9, 2016)

I. Am. So. Stupendously. Excited. About. This. Book. AD;LFKHALFKHSKDFH MY JOY AND INCOHERENCY KNOWS NO BOUNDS! Basically, it’s Melanie Dickerson, who I always enjoy reading. And it’s a regency romance, which I can enjoy occasionally–I may not be the biggest fan, but I do enjoy a Jane Austen here or a Georgette Heyer there… BUT GET THIS, IT’S AN ADVENTURESOME REGENCY WITH SPIES AND PLOTS AND THINGS AND BASICALLY I’M INSANELY EXCITED AND NEEEEED IT! ❤ Ahem. I . . . am kind of looking forward to this one if you can’t tell . . . I also hear rumors of a cover coming soon and can’t wait. 😀

Fridays with the Wizards – Jessica Day George (February 11, 2016)

I know, I haven’t even read the first few in this series, but my sources say they are good so I want to, and look at that cover — doesn’t it look fuuun?? GRIFFINS YAY.

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Defying Shadows – Ashley Townsend (early 2016)

It’s the sequel to Chasing Shadows which I reviewed, and I may have mentioned this one before but the release date got pushed back and anyway I’M SO EXCITED BECAUSE SEQUEL AND WILL.

Rebel of the Sands – Alwyn Hamilton (March 8, 2016)

No idea. Totally blame Cait for this one. She mentioned it in her Top Ten Thirty-Four post today and it looked yummy because epic fantasy+Persian+gunpowder=yes please.

The Story of Kullervo – J. R. R. Tolkien (April 5, 2016)

Um. They’re always “finding” old previous-version writings of Tolkien’s and by now it feels slightly odd BUT HEY WHO CARES IT’S BY MY FAVORITE AUTHOR SIGN ME UP. It’s supposed to be some earlier version of the story of Túrin, and also will have some of Tolkien’s notes on The Kalevala so that sounds interesting…

King’s Folly – Jill Williamson (April 2016)

Because Jill Williamson is writing fantasy again which makes me enormously pleased, plus the Blood of Kings Trilogy was stupendous and a prequel series sounds cool. (And it will give me a marvelous excuse to reread aaall the Achan books! Yay!)


The Beautiful Pretender – Melanie Dickerson (May 17, 2016)

Sequel to The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, I’m gargantuanly excited about this one BECAUSE IT’S THE MARGRAVE’S STORY AND HE WAS MY FAVORITE CHARACTER IN THE FIRST ONE AND HE GETS A STORY NOW AND ALSDJFLDKJ I CAN’T WAIT!!

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Untitled (Stolen Crowns, #1) – Jessica Day George (2016)

I should probably actually read some more books by this author before I get excited about any more of them buuuut this one sounds yummy because it’s about fairytale princesses who are grown up and living their Happily-Ever-Afters disappearing, so their kids have to save them, so BASICALLY YES.

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The Bone Queen – Alison Croggon (2016)

This one is sliiightly cheating again, as it’s a prequel to the Books of Pellinor series which has four books of which I’ve only read the first (so far), but this is a prequel about Cadvan WHO IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE CHARACTERS OF EVER AND THIS IS A WHOLE BOOK ABOUT HIM?? So I obviously have to be insanely excited about this. Yes.

Five Magic Spindles (Summer 2016)

Which we don’t even know who the stories will be by or what they will be about (except, in some vague sense, Sleeping Beauty…) but it’s clear that I’m dying to read this already despite all of that. Go figure.

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There’s my list! 🙂

What books are you excited about coming out next year? Any of these? Are any new to you?

Also I will be back again as soon as my brain becomes less scattered, with tales of my (possibly) most insane NaNo yet and all of that good stuff.

HAPPY DECEMBER! *frolics happily in the snow on my blog because that’s probably the only snow I’ll see this winter*