A day late due to technical issues (aka my laptop going to the junkyard in the sky) but today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘Kings & Daemons’ by Marcus Lee organised by Storytellers on Tour. This was a fantastic read, and I hope that you will check out the book and the author, and enjoy the rest of the tour with the schedule in the banner below or (HERE).
Also please check out the bottom of the post for a giveaway, and a chance to get your hands on a copy of this brilliant book.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review.’*
A tale of conquest, dark kings, and daemonic heroes. A spellbinding story that will enchant you with its plot of ambition, love, betrayal, sacrifice and redemption.
Over fifty years have passed since Daleth the seemingly immortal Witch-King and his army conquered the Ember Kingdom.
Now, with the once fertile lands and its enslaved people dying around him, the Witch-King, driven by his insatiable thirst for eternal youth, prepares his forces to march on the prosperous neighbouring Freestates. It will be the beginnings of a conquest that could destroy nations, bringing death and destruction on an unimaginable scale.
Then, when a peasant huntress whose rare gift was concealed from birth is exposed, it sets in motion a chain of events that could alter the destiny of generations to come.
Deliciously dark fantasy, and a spectacular debut!
I adore dark fantasy, and Lee has created a fantastically dark world in Kings & Daemons. The atmosphere is expertly crafted, until the bleakness of this world seems to leak off the pages and wrap itself around you, drawing the reader into the world in the best way. There is layering as well, with the history woven through the present, and it was fantastic to learn about how the world had become so corrupted and evil, without ever feeling as though you were caught in an info dump, it all felt incredibly organic. One reason for this was that the darkness lies not just in the physical landscapes, but inside the people who inhabit this world, in the secrets and distrust and the lengths, people will go to hide their gifts. This could have the potential to get too dark, but that is not the case here, because, for all the dark depths of this world, it is countered with a wonderful, blossoming spark of hope.
The hope and the colour against this dark world comes from the characters themselves. There is a broad cast of characters, and whether they were the main POV characters or secondary characters, they were all written with a depth and complexity that breathed life into the narrative and the world around them. As brilliant as the worldbuilding and prose are, I would say that it is the characters and their development where the author’s talents really shone through the pages.
The main POV characters each have distinctive voices, and you never lose track of who is who, and each one was memorable in their own way, although I would argue that I am torn between Taran and Kalas for my favourites. Maya, it took me a little longer to warm to, although I thoroughly enjoyed her chapters and she was the character that hooked me into the book. What I particularly enjoyed about Lee’s characterisation is that they all felt so real, each one had their own flaws, and some like Rakan took a while to develop into a character that we wanted to cheer on, and that progression and change felt very natural. It also says a lot, that I found myself thoroughly enjoying the character The Witch King. While he is reprehensible, and almost single-minded in his focus – it truly says a lot for the author’s skill, that I found myself wanting to read more about him, even as I cursed him (the best kind of character!)
Kings & Daemons very much plays with that traditional, epic fantasy feel and what you would expect from that, without becoming tropey or losing its individuality. I particularly enjoyed the daemons aspect of the world, which added a wonderful, horrific twist to the world. The magical system was also really well done, and I appreciated how we got to explore more about it as the narrative progressed through the characters and those that they meet, and it grew into a well-structured and explained system, that complemented the rest of the book.
The writing style flowed from start to finish, and it was one of those books that sweeps you along for chapters at a time, with the real-world disappearing. It was an easy, fast-paced read, without losing the depth and descriptiveness that I enjoy in fantasy, and I appreciated the skill with which information was delivered through the characters and dialogue so that even when that aspect was a little heavier at certain points, it felt so natural and believable that you are carried along.
Kings & Daemons is a brilliant start to a new epic fantasy series. While it was billed as a YA, I would argue that it has a much wider appeal, and if you like the darker side of fantasy with well-crafted characters then I would certainly recommend giving this book a go, and I will certainly be checking out the rest of the series.
About the Author:
Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.
As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.
Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.
So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.
However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.
Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.
Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad as a seven-year-old. Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.
Kings & Demons (The Gifted and the Cursed #1) – Marcus Lee (Self-published May 25th 2020) – **** (4/5 Stars)
As mentioned at the start, there is a giveaway running, so if you want to try and win a copy of this wonderful book for yourself you can enter HERE
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.