I was really excited to read The King’s Bastard. Now that I’ve finished it I find myself both pleased and a little disappointed.
There isn’t much that’s amazingly new in this book. It has all of the traditional political elements that I’ve read about numerous times; for example, the older inheriting brother is jealous of the younger brother. Added into the mix are plotting relatives and friends set to destabilize the throne, as well as plenty of secrets. In addition, Rowena Cory Daniells’ world features enchanting magical creatures, such as the unicorn-like “unistag.” The magic system seems fairly stereotypical, but Daniells makes up for this conventional magic system by making it an important aspect of the plot in a very subtle way.
Daniells’ writing is not as fluid as one might wish. Often Daniells tells readers things they could figure out on their own. In addition, I occasionally felt as though I was being given a list of events that happened rather than experiencing them. This caused me to feel rather detached from the plot and the world in general; I often felt that I was watching everything happen from a distant, uninvolved point. The King’s Bastard could have easily become a four- or five-star read if Daniells had more thoroughly immersed the reader in events and let them come to their own conclusions rather than being told what is happening and what should be understood from those happenings.
Daniells exceeds at exploiting ignorance, prejudice and secrets. She is truly talented at steeping her plot in drama, dark happenings, betrayals, twisted love affairs and more, without overburdening it with these elements. Nothing is safe in her book. This “nothing is sacred” feel pushed the plot to a new level and added a welcome layer of raw depth to her world. The dialogue is stilted at times, but the pace of Daniells’ plot and her use of prejudice and ignorance to drive the book forward are incredibly refreshing.
Daniells has set up a unique world with a plot that, if not the most groundbreaking, has many aspects that are distinctive enough to become incredibly attention-grabbing in further books. The writing is choppy, the characters do lack depth and (in some cases) maturity, and I did get annoyed with how detached I felt from the plot. However, The King’s Bastard is a solid effort and an easy page-turner. I plowed through half the book in a matter of hours. The plot is relentless in its pace, never lagging, quickly making up for a slow start.
King Rolen’s Kin seems to be a series most readers either love or hate, but it was a very average read for me. Many readers, however, absolutely love this series and sing its praises — and the enthusiasm of all these satisfied readers shows that there is something here worth exploring.
FanLit thanks Sarah Chorn from Bookworm Blues for contributing this guest review.