Kings of Paradise is the first installment in the Ash and Sand trilogy
What I Liked:
- The plot moves smoothly from one POV to the other, each character has it’s own distinct voice and background.
- The characters make both heroic and horrific decisions though the story, but because you feel as though you’ve been on this journey with them you have a little bit of sympathy when you probably shouldn’t. You care for the characters in the world even when they make awful decisions.
- The world is dark and unforgiving. There are a few moments in this book when you see disaster and death being set in motion but because we are used to something coming in at the last minute and saving characters you start to care about you dismiss it and think something will come and save them. Not in this world. There are some deaths that took me by surprise and it establishes early on that this isn’t that type of story. Nobody is safe and none of the characters are perfect. This is that kind of book.
- There are some characters that you begin to despise because of what they do to our main characters, but with the rules being setup in this world you realize they may continue their treachery because they are so good at it. This is a testament to the author for making us care about the main characters and hating those who want to harm them.
- There were several moments in this book that I had to stop and say “What the… no way this is going to happen.” and most of the time it does happen.
- The characters have a nice arc, through the book their journey weighs on you and you feel the weight of each decision they make. We’ve all been through those moments when we thought something or someone was the world to us, but later we realize it or they weren’t. You grow and learn, that was well represented here.
- The story goes from violence to character history to love story and back to violence and treachery seamlessly.
- There is a subtle mention of a scent described in this book that perfectly describes how scents can bring back memories of the past or people from the past.
What I Didn’t Like:
- There were a few moments in the book that you wonder where the plot is going or what this means in the big picture.
- Something I struggle with in lots of fantasy books is keeping track of all the names when they are similar. It’s a minor negative, but I found myself going back and trying to remember who was who when names were similar.
- I would have liked a little bit more world building, but with the characters being so strong it didn’t bother me too much.
- One of the characters learns a skill a little faster then I expected, but it’s another minor complaint.
Conclusion and Rating:
I don’t like coming of age stories. They aren’t for me. Because I like to go into books blind, I didn’t realize this was a coming of age story. What appealed to me about this book is I heard it was dark and unforgiving. What surprised me is how much I loved the coming of age aspects of the story, how the characters grew and evolved was so well done. We can all relate to how we change though our lives and as the characters grow and reflect, and that was masterfully done. The book is 599 pages long, but it felt like half that. The world is a violent, dark and dangerous place – you get the feeling there may not be a happy ending. Because we get to know these characters when they were young and know what they’ve been through, you begin to care for them and instead of hating them when they do awful things you wonder why. There aren’t many pulled punches, this isn’t that kind of story. This is easily one of my top two or three books I’ve read and is already a contender for book of the year. It’s not for everyone because of some of the themes and violence, but if that doesn’t bother you it’s definitely a book you should check out. I think it goes without saying that I’m continuing this series and my books are already on their way from Amazon. It’s also currently free on Kindle Unlimited.