I received this as a review request – thanks Mr. Woolliscroft, I had a lot of fun with this one!
r/Fantasy Bingo Squares:
- Published 2018
- Indie Published
- Under 2500 ratings
- One Word Title
- Reviewed (once posted to Reddit)
- Protag who is a writer/artist/musician
This book focuses on what it’s like to make a transition from a monarchy to a semi-democratic society that’s holding its first election.
The King and Queen were murdered under mysterious circumstances, you find out early on that it was the courts wizard that killed them, and for good reason. The king and queen were hated by most due to stupidly unfair taxing coupled with harsh punishments for those who failed to pay. The reasons the wizard killed them, however, was for a much darker reason, they both were involved in a slave trade and other darker things that prompted the wizard to intervene.
Now that the election is upon Kingshold, there are threads being pulled all over the city. The book follows around a bunch of POV’s who are all linked into the same web, and eventually, all of their storylines come together. Whoever comes to the courts with 1,000 gold crowns can buy a Pyxie, a demon summoned by the wizard, to keep until they tell the Pyxie their vote, and it will be cast for the appropriate candidate.
Mareth is a bard who’s sort of lost his way in life. He sleeps most of the day, drinks and sings most nights, and just rinse and repeat every day. He’s tired of it, but he doesn’t see a good way out, and he’s lost his spark for making songs. Along the way he gets swept up in a civilian revolution where the common people are trying to pool their money to cast a vote.
Alana has scraped her way up the serving ladder from pot scrubber to the personal servant of the wizard, Jyuth. She’s found herself running errands for him and meeting all sorts of people from all walks of life throughout the city. Her sister and Mareth are all working for a common cause, trying to get the commoners to take advantage of this unprecedented chance at having a say about who’s in power.
Hoskin is the son of the kings right hand, and has been at the palace all of his life, and serves as a type of administrator to the crown. Once the king and queen had been disposed of, his position became more precarious and more stressful as he tries to hold the kingdom together until they can sort out the election process.
Motega and his two friends travel together doing odd jobs most people wouldn’t want to do. They are arriving in Kingshold returning from a mission to find books and bring them back to a merchant who deals with a very specific sort of clientele. Once that job was completed, they took on another job from the same employer trying to find blackmail/evidence that one of the candidates running for Lord Protector is dirty and can use it to dissuade people from casting votes for them. While trying to find the evidence against the noble, they run into an old boss of theirs, the Mother of the Twilight Exiles. She’s going to kill one of Motega’s friends if they don’t come up with enough money for her to cast a vote in the election. Their storyline is off to the side for a while, but it comes together with the other storylines about 40-50% through the book.
I really loved this plotline, each time I thought the plot had thickened, it just got more interesting.
Final Score: 13/15
Mareth starts out as a guy down on his luck, kind of on the rougher side, hanging out with people drinking every night. However, even during his drunker phases he still has a decent inner moral compass show through when the need arises. A noble comes into town and a riot breaks out, guards are hacking and slashing their way through a crowd and he rushes in to go save them. He starts drinking less and less, and becomes a hard-working character with a drive in life. I really enjoy when a character has a redemption arc and finds a purpose, it’s satisfying to read about. Especially on the heels of reading First Law trilogy haha.
Hoskin is a sarcastic kind of person, he loves taunting the nobles who come in and out of court asking for this and that. He likes trying to get a rise out of them, and always keeps his own cool. He’s extremely smart, and he prefers his books to being involved in politics, but he can’t find a way out until this election is over. What he really wants is to go home to his family, not deal with the new Lord Protector.
Neenahwi is the wizards adopted daughter, and she’s a fiery one. She’s had a sordid past where she was sold into slavery and saved by the wizard Jyuth and trained in magic. She faced down a demon at the beginning of the book in order to get a special gem that has incredible power and is striving to learn how to tap into that power. She’s also being handed the realm because Jyuth wants to retire, he’s tired of always being in charge and learning to live with mistakes. He wants to go somewhere warm and just work on his studies. He’s hundreds of years old and has had enough.
Motega is loyal to his friends, and although they do a lot of shady stuff, like steal evidence out of noble’s houses, overall he’s still a decent person. He doesn’t approve of “actual theft” of money or wealth for their own gain. He has boundaries after all 🙂 He’s quick on his feet and talks his way out a dangerous situation rather than hacking and slashing his way through even though he could have.
Final Score: 13/15
This is a secondary world filled with magic and different sorts of creatures. The magic is pretty mysterious, there’s no real magic system per se, more like vague rules involving runes and the like. Burning through too much of your own mana can be dangerous, so it’s best to use the life forces around you, like the trees or grass or animals.
Jyuth derives a lot of powers from several gems similar to the one that Neenawhi stole from a demon. It allows him to live for centuries and also tap into power he can’t get elsewhere.
Demons of all sorts are in this world, some tameable like the pyxies, and others less so.
There are a lot of different countries and cultures referenced throughout the book. One of the more interesting ones were the Deep People. They are dwarves, sort of. They are short and broad, but also albino in appearance and have to wear special tinted glasses while being above ground.
There are a host of guilds all over the city, including a legal guild of assassins. There’s a guild of moneylenders, lawmakers, bakers, spicers etc.
Final Score: 12.5/15
I wouldn’t call this laugh out loud funny, but there was a lot of light humor used through the book, a lot of it in sarcasm or quips. I really enjoyed how quick and light this read, and I found myself smiling through a lot of it.
This was also written very clean, I didn’t catch anything as far as spelling or grammar. There’s not a lot of simile or metaphor so you sort of speed through this.
Final Score: 11.5/15
At first when the POV’s were jumping around in the beginning I was having a small bit of trouble with the pacing. Most of the POV’s were introduced in the first 10% of the book, so I was trying to figure out who was who and how everything was connected. I didn’t know who they were when they were introduced, but by the end of their chapters I had a good idea about how they’d fit into the story.
Once the story got going I was turning pages FAST, I really wanted to figure out how everything was going to play out. There isn’t a terrible amount of “action” although there is some of that, it was more political intrigue and wondering what was going to happen next in the election.
Final Score: 11.5/15
There were a lot of elements I’ve seen before, like a wizard who’s ancient and is a behind the scenes player in the government, pyxies and demons I’ve seen before and all that. However, I really liked the first time try outs for a democracy thing, I don’t see that happening too often and it lead to a really interesting storyline.
Final Score: 11/15
I really liked this book, it’s just my kind of book. There were a lot of interesting characters, a lot of which had growth and development. The world building was enjoyable and the setting felt real. I also really enjoyed the overall tone of the book, this wasn’t a comedy, but it was light and had its moments where it was pretty funny. It’s nice to get a book like this following a grimdark. I was pleasantly surprised that Cut Me Own Throat Dibbler was referenced in a brief one-liner blink and you’ll miss it quote, it earned a bit of brownie points there. (This is not a “reference” heavy book, it’s not like Kings of the Wyld)
Final Score: 8.8/10
- For people who like multi pov
- For people who like old school magic and wizards
- For people who like secondary worlds
- For people who like a lighter tone
- For people who like a lot of magic
- For people who like a lot of politics
- For people who like when the city takes a big part in the story
- Not for people who don’t like cursing, 37 fucks given
Final Score: 81.3/100 (4.1 Stars)