Book Reviews

The Kingmaster

THE HERO OF ELLUNON. Kyen is a swordsman with a heavy name on his shoulders. Shy and destitute, he’s about to lose the only thing he has left—his best friend. When Finn is attacked and stricken, Kyen pledges his sword to save him. But blades are useless against the Kingmaster, a sinister strategist armed with a dark relic. Kyen must hunt for the last living summoner in Ellunon, the only hope to stop the Kingmaster and heal Finn. Fending off dragons, wrangling a princess (and her unwanted suitor), and surviving the wilds of Ellunon are the least of Kyen’s problems. Every summoner he finds is lost, dead, or powerless. The Kingmaster’s grip is spreading. Finn’s time is running out. When Kyen suddenly finds himself the center of the Kingmaster’s designs, he realizes too late. The stakes are higher than he ever imagined...

The Kingmaster is not a children’s book. For a start, it has about three hundred extra pages and there is not a single picture of a fluffy animal to speak of. While it is certainly suitable for younger readers, sitting at around the PG mark, it is not a children’s book. I mention this because, upon starting C.A. Doehrmann’s debut, the simplicity of its language, as well as its short sentences and paragraphs, struck me.

As I progressed through the novel, I really started to enjoy the sentence and paragraph structure used so broadly in the book. While not every sentence is short, and not every paragraph comprises a single sentence, Doehrmann uses these shorter sentences to great effect, whether it’s in its descriptions, setting the mood, and (possibly the biggest boon for this book), reaching and maintaining a fast pace. This results in the book being quicker to read than most others at its length (thanks, additional white space!), in this case 318 pages in paperback, or roughly 229 swipes on your eReader of choice.

Not that a quick read is anything to lament; The Kingmaster feels like it is as long as it should be, without extra padding, and rushing nothing. The book has been judiciously edited into a lean final product. The fact that Doehrmann has pulled this off while also providing plenty of descriptive prose about locations, events, etc, makes the accomplishment an even more impressive feat. The editing extends to the entire book, with me not noticing any spelling or grammar issues, which appears to be a rare feat; so congratulations to all involved.

To circle back on my tongue-in-cheek remarks about children’s books, The Kingmaster is an appropriate read for most age groups. On the book series’ website (one: I’ll get into the series later; and 2: be sure to check out the links below; there’s a reason I include them), the author makes it clear that she sees The Kingmaster as a swords and sorcery book, instead of an epic fantasy. The reason for this is the amount of character work and action included in The Kingmaster.

The characters are indeed well-written, each of them engaging in their own way. The major three characters—Kyen, Galveston and Adeya—each bring with them a sense of fun, rather than simple clichés. The book’s threat, the titular Kingmaster is a mysterious, powerful villain, who is also very well-written.

And while it feels like I’ve been harping on (and on, and on) about The Kingmaster’s sentence and paragraph structure, not only do these short sentences and paragraphs help the overall pace, they also lend themselves to assisting the flow of the action. There are a number of action sequences throughout Doehrmann’s novel, and each of them excels, putting the reader in the midst of the action.

While there is plenty of action, and it is fun, the book doesn’t deviate into violence or ugliness, and there is no profanity. While, personally, I quite enjoy a healthy dose of violence, ugliness and profanity, they weren’t needed for the author’s story and, therefore, weren’t included. Nothing was shoved into the book in a hamfisted way—Doehrmann understands that just because you’re writing a fantasy series (there it is; that word again), you don’t have to try and emulate George R.R. Martin.

You may have noticed (and possibly because I’ve been pointing it out), I’ve made a couple of references to series’. While not marked on the front cover (although, it is mentioned in the author bio on the back cover, and on retail websites), The Kingmaster is the first book in the Arc Legends of Ellunon series. If you are the type of reader who is dubious about jumping into a series, given there is still more story to come, The Kingmaster is largely standalone. So much so, in fact, that the book’s epilogue is the only part of the story that lets you know that there’s a larger tapestry yet to be mined.

While there is so much to love about The Kingmaster, it is not a perfect novel. The dialogue sometimes feels stilted, like the characters aren’t comfortable with each other, and are instead delivering facts. This is sometimes exacerbated by the short paragraphs, especially when the dialogue is following a single line paragraph. My other issue, while fairly minor, is that The Kingmaster doesn’t bring anything new, or particularly different to the genre. It definitely plays with tropes (and it feels like Doehrmann had a lot of fun with this), but it doesn’t lead to anything revolutionary. And that is absolutely fine; just don’t pick up the book if you’re looking for something that changes the fantasy game.

While The Kingmaster doesn’t offer much new and occasionally features some awkward dialogue, it is still an absolutely entertaining read. If you are looking for a book that isn’t entirely challenging, I strongly recommend you check it out. Because, simply, it is a lot of fun.

Favourite Passage

Adeya found Galveston standing a couple stone-throws off in the woods. The new fire flinted between the trunks behind her.

“Galvestron?”

He turned to face her. “My princess.”

They stood in silence a moment. Adeya opened her mount, but Galveston overrode her.

“My princess, please hear me out. I know you’ve long seen my feelings towards you. Tonight, I declared them. “He stepped up, took her hand, as his words tumbled out.

“Gal—”

“Your father and mother gave me their blessing before the Kingmaster came. I just cannot keep it to myself anymore. How very deeply, ardently, devotedly I am yours. You have conquered me. I surrender myself to you now and ask you—” Galveston got down on one knee. “Pleas with you. Take me as your own for life, my princess. Will you marry me?”

The Kingmaster, Chapter 25

The Kingmaster was provided by the author as part of a raffle.

The Kingmaster is available in both paperback and and eBook formats, from book retailers (including—but not limited to—Amazon).

You can follow C.A. Doehrmann online, via:

Note: I do not post scores on reviews on this website, but do post them on my Amazon and Goodreads reviews:

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