Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Karen Miller - Kingmaker, Kingbreaker (Book Review)


-----

***

---Asher is sick and tired of being a fisherman's son with too many brothers who never miss the chance to beat him up. That's why he decides one day to leave secretly for Dorana, a capital city of the Kingdom of Lur. All he wants is to earn enough money to buy a boat for himself and his father, but an ancient prophecy has a slightly different destiny in store him. When Asher finds himself working for the prince, he believes his life could not get any curiouser, but he is not aware that the members of the Circle, a secret organisation dedicated to preserving an ancient magic, are shadowing his every step...

***

Karen Miller is an Australian science-fiction and fantasy writer, best known for her Stargate tie-in and for her bestselling fantasy duology "Kingmaker, Kingbreaker" (you can read the prologue from the first book, The Innocent Mage, here, and the first chapter from its sequel, The Awakened Mage, here. She is releasing the first book - entitled 'Empress', in her brand new Godspeaker trilogy this month (April,2008). By the way, Chris (The Book Swede & His Blog) has done a nice interview with the author – you can read it here.

I've read the "Kingmaker, Kingbreaker" duology a short while ago and it left me with mixed feelings. On one hand, these are a pretty refreshing set of fantasy novels; they are skillfully written and include some competent world-building. The plot, on the other hand, is rather straightforward and fairly typical of the genre and it felt heavily YA oriented too.

Maybe the fault for feeling that way lies predominantly at my feet because I read Miller's books during the period I was discovering the works of the new generation of fantasy writers (Lynch, Abercrombie, Ruckley and some others). It's no wonder then, that I kept comparing their efforts with hers – this might not be entirely just, since the comparisons are not always simple to make or even very relevant – but still, some elements of the "Kingmaker, Kingbreaker" kept reminding me of one or another that I've already seen before elsewhere...and done better, might I add. Here we have the ever-present social inequality and class struggles (or, in the case of "Kingmaker, Kingbreaker", the superiority of one race over another as well), the barrier against the world of Evil (hello, Terry Brooks and other Tolkien derivatives!) and the same old-same old fantasy setting. There is the classical coming-of-age hero story – another rural boy possessing an undiscovered secret power – and the never tiring plot device: prophecy of the Chosen One who is to save the world, naturally. The mythos of Miller's world plays an important role in the over-arching story as well. The myths & legends of this world made me think of "The First Law" trilogy by Joe Abercrombie; it's not that they are similar in structure - it just feels that way. I would have gotten more from reading Karen Miller's books – if only I read them before the above mentioned works.

Otherwise, "Kingmaker, Kingbreaker" duology classifies as a perfectly decent read. I read both books in one big gulp – it's a veritable page-turner and the reading flows exceptionally well, especially if you are a girl and/or a sucker for romantic stories where the hero is destined to get the (forbidden) girl, after struggling for her for a while. For more than a half of the second book, I was anxiously waiting for something interesting to happen between the two. Maybe it’s a cheap writer’s trick, but it worked for me perfectly (it can, however, bore you or spoil your reading experience, if you aren’t fond of such things and prefer action oriented story-telling). As you are drawing nearer to the end of the book, the tension grows considerably and the situation explodes at last into a colossal battle against the ultimate evil, that brings to a typical, but a bit bitter ending as well. The humor in the books is light and easy-going and it made me grin uncontrollably on more than a few occasions.

To sum things up, I have to say that reading the this duology made me feel like I was reading a more imaginative and humor-tinged version of "Winterbirth" by Brian Ruckley (my review). Even though I know the plots are nothing alike, the feeling I got from these books was more or less the same - it's just that Miller writes with more humor, more imagination and more style. I had much fun reading "The Innocent Mage" and its sequel so I'm not sorry at the least for the time spent reading it.
-
-
- (3 whole Fruitcakes)
-
-
-

-
~ Trin ~

5 Comments:

MadMax-imillian said...

Finally, a new review from you :D. And I've actually read this books. Liked them very much. Liked your review as well :).

Trin said...

thank you! ^^ I'm kinda lazy with the reviews lately, I know. :/ Probably because I have a shelf full of new books - it's really hard to resist them, and constant reading leaves little time for writing. :D

Dark Wolf said...

Yes, sometimes I prefer to read instead of reviewing, but is part of our passion. Very nice review.

Kimber An said...

Great review!

Trin said...

@ dark wolf, kimber an: thank you both :)

 

blogger templates 3 columns | Make Money Online