A Mark of Kings by Luke Chmilenko and Bryce O’Connor

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I was familiar with both of these authors and was interested when I saw the audiobook for this was performed by Nick Podehl who is one of my favorite narrators.

I got what I wanted from this – a really fun high fantasy story. It started off a bit slower, there was a medium length prologue that introduced the world and laid the foundation for the main character’s backstory. After that, it was largely set up for the first quarter of the book with things really kicking off around 25-30% as the world building kind of exploded and the plot taking shape. After spending the better part of his life fighting with mercenaries and taking on random jobs while roaming the country side… he stumbles into the undead…. The undead are thought to be a thing of legends… magic has been outlawed for generations and the time of dragons and evil queens has been gone for centuries. It seems that myths and legends are taking hold of the world again and Declan has to decide whether he’s going to be the kind of hero his fore fathers were.

I liked Declan as a character, I do feel he was kind of a generic ‘good guy’, but honestly at this point in my life that’s what I wanted to read about. When things are really shitty I don’t want to read about bad guys, or even really dark grey characters. I want good guys I can root for and just sink myself into a story about a decent person fighting high odds and winning. That said, there were a number of last minute saves that became too frequent. Declan becomes more powerful as the book goes on, and he’s also very much so a destiny lead character. He has a hidden family background that reveals itself as the story unfolds, and he fits the mold of “character who doesn’t know how powerful he could be”.

I really love non human characters, and although he wasn’t a POV, Ryn’s character was probably my favorite. A shapeshifting mentor and teacher that has been by Declan’s side since he was an infant. I’ve got a thing for mentor/apprentice relationships, especially when they’re healthy and not abusive. Ryn is able to be turn into things like a hawk and a horse – he has other forms as well but they’re fun to discover as you read. He’s super old and has seen some serious shit, which gives him a calm demeanor and cool head in most circumstances.

I love classic high fantasy stories with powerful mages living for a thousand years, elves and half elves roaming around, the undead, warren, ghouls, pyromancers, chimeras, wargs, healing magic, dragons, draghrs, necromancers, darks elves vs wood elves, ancient evils queens etc. It’s the kind of escapism I needed at the moment and it was easy for me to lose myself in the story.

I would recommend this to people who like classic fantasy stories with high stakes, lots of magic, and rooting for the good guy. The narration was fantastic as well, which is no surprise to anyone who knows Nick Podehl and enjoys his style.


  • Plot: 11/15
  • Characters: 10/15
  • World Building: 12.5/15
  • Writing: 13/15
  • Pacing: 12/15
  • Originality: 10/15
  • Personal Enjoyment: 8.5/10

Final Score: 77/100