3 out of 4 stars
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Ed Cannon’s fantasy-magic novel, titled The Kings’ Assassin, begins in media res. The story opens in the middle of the treacherous Illician desert, where Sillik, a prince of Illicia, is making his way home after receiving an urgent telepathic message from his father the king. Sillik reaches home, only to find that his father and older brothers have been ruthlessly and mysteriously assassinated, leading to a political uproar in the kingdom. Sillik now has to not only search for the culprit, who seems to be an Illician traitor, he is also thrown into the politics of his court amidst the threat of war due to the rise of dark forces around his kingdom.
This book has all the trappings of an exciting fantasy read which I relished: light magic, dark magic, mystery, politics, and mythical creatures such as imps and dragons. The plot is obviously well-thought-out, and the world in which the story is set in is complex and unique, making it all the more fascinating.
In addition, the writing style is simple (in a good way), and this helps the story to flow well. With this, I was quickly immersed in the story and could easily visualise the various scenes and backgrounds described. The book in turn became a richly detailed and rather realistic narrative for me, which only served to heighten my enjoyment.
Also, Cannon took the trouble to include Sillik’s family tree, along with a map of Illicia and her surroundings at the beginning of the book for readers to familiarise themselves with the world they are about to enter. I appreciated this very much, as it helped me to swiftly gain a better understanding of the geographical aspect of the scenes of war present.
Nevertheless, there are a few issues present that lessened my enjoyment of The Kings’ Assassin. A hint of romance is present in the book, which I personally think is unnecessary. This is as the build-up to the romance was not given enough time to develop, so for me, the establishment of the couple came out of nowhere.
Next, for a world in which light magic (termed “the Seven Laws”) and dark magic (termed “the Nine Laws”) play a massive part, it would have been a lot better if Cannon spent more time detailing what these magics are exactly, instead of providing a simple list of the names of said Laws at the beginning. With more explanation, I believe that the reader will be able to achieve a deeper level of immersion in the story.
This need for expansion unfortunately also applies to the plot: I believe that The Kings’ Assassin could have been fleshed out in more detail to form two books. As it is, there are too many things going on in the novel, which makes the book slightly rushed and a little underdeveloped.
Nonetheless, I rate Ed Cannon’s The Kings’ Assassin 3 out of 4 stars. If half stars were allowed, I would have given it 2.5 stars. I made the decision to round it up in this case because as much as the above-mentioned flaws are important, they do not detract significantly from the novel’s reading flow. Also, the book is professionally edited, which is a huge plus.
I recommend this to those who enjoy political intrigue (as it plays a major role) and a good mystery. In fact, it reminds me a little of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, albeit for a more mature audience. There are scenes and descriptions of torture and gore, so I would not recommend this to those who are uncomfortable with it. This is the first in the series, and the best recommendation I can give is to state that I would certainly read the sequel, titled The King’s Death.
The Kings' Assassin
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