I first discovered this series when I took part in a Blog Tour back in November for Fiskur, organised by Fiery Seas Publishing. This is the second book in the series and I was gutted that I hadn’t discovered it earlier. If I’d had the time to catch up with the first book and read second for the Blog Tour, I would have done!
Alas, I didn’t. Sometimes, it isn’t meant to be.
My stroke of luck finally came in January, when I contacted Fiery Seas Publishing to express interest in beginning the series. My review request schedule had freed up considerably, so it was the perfect time to enquire. Catherine, an absolute hard-working gem, very kindly sent me both Kinglet and Fiskur to read and review in time for the publishing of the THIRD book of the series (which celebrated it’s publishing date yesterday!)
To have even one book published is a huge accomplishment, so to see the third book of a series published must be absolutely amazing!! Congratulations Donna!!
I have the privilege of reading StoneKing as part of the current blog tour. I’ll be using the penultimate slot of the tour, on the 19th March, to share a review with you… I hope you can join me for that!
Today though, I’m talking about where it all begins:-
***I was very kindly provided with a free copy of this book by Fiery Seas Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***
Kristan Gemeta has lost everything: his crown, his kingdom, his courage – even his name.
In the vast wilderness of the Exilwald, he’s known to the other outcasts as Kinglet. As long as Kristan stays hidden, he can elude the bounty hunters, brutal soldiers and terrifying spells of Daazna, the Wichelord who killed his father and destroyed his life.
But when a new band of pursuers comes looking for him, Kristan’s wariness gives way to intrigue. For bounty hunters they’re oddly inept, and a young woman in their company is leaving enigmatic drawings wherever they go. As they plunge deeper into the Exilwald, Kristan follows. He discovers the drawings symbolize the Gemeta Stone, an ancient family talisman seized by Daazna but now in the little band’s possession.
With the Stone’s protection, Kristan might stand a chance against Daazna. He could regain his birthright and his honor. But to obtain the Stone, he must reveal his true identity and risk the one thing he has left…his life.
If asked what my favourite genre is, I would tell you that Fantasy is by far the most entertaining read for me. I have been busy enjoying some different genres for a while, so to come back to a favourite, written so well as this… what can I say? I fell in love straight away!
That being said, I’m not a huge fan of all the tropes in Fantasy. If I’m honest, I think the orphaned child is one that is used time again – I’d go so far as to say a little overused for my taste, but some people like that. There are some other stereotypical elements to Kristan’s character – he is kind, noble and forgiving…. way too forgiving! Oh, he’s handsome too. Did I forget to mention that?! Again, these are typical traits that are very common among our Fantasy leads.
The only author I can think that has completely flipped these traits on their head with their protagonist is Mark Lawrence, in his The Broken Empire series. The protagonist’s character is extremely well developed; his most defining features are his flaws… and believe me, there are many! I found his unique character a refreshing change; there were times I loved to hate him, and then others I couldn’t help but pity him. He stands out from the crowd of fantasy protagonists by stepping away from the norm, which I really appreciated.
As much as Kristan’s character encapsulates a lot of the favourable and stereotypical traits one might expect and we commonly see, that isn’t to say I didn’t like him. I felt an affinity to him from the start, even from his brief spell at the beginning as a youth, always under pressure to adhere to high expectations and trying to understand the world and its workings from an early age. Not to put this across as a negative point (I’m more in favour of calling it a constructive one), I would have liked to see a little more originality to Kristan’s personality.
I really enjoyed the magical element being introduced straight away. We are thrown into the action first and gradually our understanding of the motive is built upon later. With world building in Fantasy, it is very easy to try and ‘info dump’ a lot of background before anything even happens. This is far from the case, and rightly so, because that can ruin a book for me. Bogging a reader down in details is a turn off, but gradually integrating ideas, clues and other information is the best way to move narrative in the right direction. Donna achieves this effortlessly.
Two years after the Gemeta’s flight from his home, his father’s death and the powerful mage responsible for it, a group of rebels leave Fandrall equipped with the magical stone that has been in the Gemeta’s possession for generations. They travel into the unknown Exilwald, his rumoured hiding place and home to a number of unsavoury characters.
The dynamic of our adventurers attempting to find the exiled King changes frequently. Family ties and friendships are tested, as would be expected from a group forced out of their homes with merely the clothes on their back. Whilst not the most companionable character of the group, I actually came to like Colin an awful lot. As head of the group, his predominantly negative attitude stems from his feeling of responsibility to protect. In a lot of ways he comes across as an antagonist, but truthfully he is a man very much grounded in reality. He’s grumpy, miserable and completely pessimistic about the slim chances of completing the task at hand – a bit like me before my first coffee of the day really…
There are many things I could talk about that I really enjoyed, but to summarise, I’ll say this – it has a fantastic plot and an approachable narrative with a wonderful twist of many elements that make up a classic fantasy.
Rather than reading my positive ramblings, you could be reading this for yourself! Thank you to Donna and Fiery Seas Publishing for the chance to pick up this wonderful start to a new series! I cannot wait to read the next one!
Oh wait, I don’t have to!
About the Author:
Donna Migliaccio is a professional stage actress with credits that include Broadway, National Tours and prominent regional theatres. She is based in the Washington, DC Metro area, where she co-founded Tony award-winning Signature Theatre and is in demand as an entertainer, teacher and public speaker. Her award-winning short story, “Yaa& The Coffins,” was featured in Thinkerbeat’s 2015 anthology The Art of Losing.