3 out of 4 stars
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Kin's Quest is the tale of a newlywed couple who desperately hope to find their families. Gresham and Rayna unite in their determination to find the parents they have never known, but where to begin? When Rayna's friend Friar Luc discovers a coveted map, the couple hopes they have found a key to finding their missing kin. However, a zealous group of chevaliers from the One Church has its own designs for the map and will stop at nothing to get it back. When the zealots' pursuit puts the life of the couple's unborn child at risk, Gresham must leave Rayna to reach out to her estranged father for help. Meanwhile, Gresham and his Uncle Jarek must use their sorcery skills to seek out the map's secrets. The map may lead to the missing kin, but the threats along the way may test their magic skills to the limit, and sometimes even magic cannot combat the deadliest of foes.
Book two of The Tales of Graal is a fast-paced fantasy adventure by Ron Root. This sequel picks up after the events in Nexus Moons and can be read first if you don't mind spoilers for book one. It was easy to follow the plot in Kin's Quest, and I immediately loved the characters, worldbuilding, and inclusion of magic. Since I did not read book one, I can honestly say that book two can be read and enjoyed on its own. However, I feel like I missed out on the relationship building and backstories of several protagonists, including Gresham, Rayna, Jarek, and Hagley (another mage that plays a crucial role in the quest). I also believe that reading book one would have given me a better understanding of the undercurrent of the One Church, how it fits into the world of Graal, and why there was so much tension surrounding its operation. Still, Kin's Quest remained a captivating story with robust characters and made me even more eager to go back and read Nexus Moons.
What I loved most about the characters was how easy it was to distinguish their unique voices through various dialogue and accents. Reading the accents was not complex or cumbersome and even added some humor to the context at times. The richness of the royal people's speech was more refined than the rugged text spoken by the villagers and some antagonists, which added vibrant texture to the storytelling. I also appreciated that the magic used in the story was not excessively dominant or the only way to solve problems.
There wasn't anything that I disliked about the story, but I did notice quite a few proofreading errors. Unfortunately, I had to reduce my rating to 3 out of 4 stars. Additionally, there were occasional scenes that featured rude humor of which I was not particularly fond. These scenes did not reduce my rating, but readers may appreciate a heads up about the "dirty small clothes" and sexual advances of grungy kidnappers.
As I mentioned previously, readers can enjoy Kin's Quest on its own, but I'd recommend reading the series in order, starting with Nexus Moons. The Tales of Graal appear to be an ongoing series, so I look forward to reading the next installment. Readers looking for a fantasy adventure that includes various types of magic, portal travel, and inner turmoil within the kingdom will find a satisfying read within this collection.
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