Esme’s SPFBO 2017: Mercenary by Jon Kiln

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This book was part of Booknest’s grouping and has since been eliminated. I listened to the audiobook here, so please forgive my spelling!


Princess Miriam is on the run because of her uncle trying to take over the kingdom. You get a POV of this uncle as well, and he’s rather brutal. He’s systematically executing or murdering everyone who gets in his way of getting the crown. He can’t do that while the princess lives, however, so he has to track her down and kill her before she can come back and claim her crown. He got away with imprisoning the King and Queen by accusing them of treason.

Miriam has a grandmother who’s also a royal member of a different kingdom, she has special gifts almost like a seer, she can see that her granddaughter is in danger, and she knows when people close to her die. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of control though, so it’s more like passive magic rather than something skilled. Right now the Duchess is preparing her nation for war because she sees what has happened to her daughter, the Queen, and needs to rally before she gets overrun.

Miriam is running through the woods and gets caught up in a secluded and secretive race of ‘river people’ who want their identity and whereabouts known to no one besides themselves. It’s customary for them to kill foreigners on site, but instead, the clan chief offers Miriam his son instead of a death sentence. She has to get out of there before she gets forced into a marriage and can’t help her family or kingdom.

Final Score: 6.5/10


Miriam – she’s 15 and a Princess, she isn’t as annoying as that sounds, however. She does seem to have some kind of intelligence and manages to spearhead an escape plan when others failed. She’s an okay character, I liked her well enough but she wasn’t exactly a ‘deep’ character.

Duchess – I think I liked her POV the most even though she’s not at all a main character, just because she has these crazy visions going on and she seems like a fair and decent person.

Harold – the uncle who’s striving for power. This guy is relentless and ruthless and shows zero remorse for his actions. He’s a pretty standard evil villain grasping for power character, and reading his chapters kind of suck because he’s usually executing people I kind of liked.

Final Score: 6/10 

World Building:

The world building was kind of light, there were some strange creatures, some seer kind of magic. But this was not a magic heavy kind of book – it’s eluded to that there are dragons and things like that, and it keeps hinting at something larger, but for the most part this book doesn’t have a lot as far as magic systems, creatures, lore and what not.

The river people are a secluded and somewhat unusual culture hidden deep in the woods at a secret lake. They have some interesting fishing techniques and cultural things, I would have liked for that to be fleshed out more about how they’ve managed to stay hidden all these years.

Final Score: 5.5/10 


The tone kind of changed from one chapter to the next depending on who’s POV you were reading. The chapters where the POV of the character is executed is rather grim, and it happens more than once. I wouldn’t call any of the POV’s light hearted, but some are darker than others.

The pacing was okay, this was a quick book and I read it within a day.

Pacing Final Score: 7/10

Writing Final Score: 7/10


I’ve read many books about an ousted heir struggling to take back their crown, and I’ve read a lot of princess in distress stories as well. So, unfortunately for me this is something I’ve seen before.

What I will say though, is several times I kept expecting a ‘save’ for a few characters, and it never came. It didn’t have any conveniently timed rescuing of characters, so it earns points there. I often times know when a character is about to have some kind of miraculous save, and I was expecting it and it never came.

Final Score: 6.5/10 


  • People who enjoy low magic fantasy
  • People who like “escort missions” where a person is tasked with getting someone to a location safely with perils along the way
  • People who like multi pov
  • People who like female pov
  • People who like shorter stories

Final Score: 39.5/60 or 6.58/10 or 3 stars on GR.

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