Last month saw the release of the first book in The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin, The King’s Bastard (review here) and this month it’s the release of the second volume, The Uncrowned King. Australian writer Rowena Cory Daniells (whom I interviewed here) gave us a strong offering in the first volume and this second one easily equals its predecessor. Heftier action-wise and less so in intrigue, The Uncrowned King delivers a solidly entertaining read, one that successfully avoids the “middle book lag” and builds the anticipation for the final chapter of this strong fantasy trilogy.
Thirteen year old Piro watches powerless as her father’s enemies march on his castle. A traitor whispers poison in the King’s ear, undermining his trust in her brother, Byren.
Determined to prove his loyalty, Byren races across the path of the advancing army, towards the Abbey. Somehow, he must get there in time to convince the Abbot to send his warriors to defend the castle.
Meanwhile, the youngest of King Rolen’s sons, Fyn, has barely begun his training as an Abbey mystic, but he wakes in a cold sweat, haunted by dreams of betrayal...
The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin are one and only story, and that is made obvious by the lack of space in time between the first two books. Though I didn’t mention it in my review then, The King’s Bastard can hardly be qualified as having it’s own, defined story-arc, instead it is obvious that this one story was cut into three pieces. So, The Uncrowned King begins barely hours from the final line of The King’s Bastard and immediately pitches us back into the world of King Rolen’s Kin. Daniells unfortunately does not spare us inevitable recaps of the previous books, but at least it is done quickly and is accompanied with abundant amounts of new action and excitement.
In terms of length, The Uncrowned King stands shorter than The King’s Bastard, and it seems that the difference translates to less intrigue. Where the first volume contained much plotting, counter-plotting, twists, turns and general court-based intrigue, this sequel leans more towards action and the suffering of events. For a start, the main plotter from the previous book takes a back seat for the events of this novel, and the main characters, King Rolen’s children, take a very passive role to the events, powerless to act. The action, though, is top-notch. We’re necessarily talking fighting, though there is some of that, but just fast-pace, changes of setting, traveling, hiding, running away and so on, all things that lead to a high level of suspense running
throughout the book, a characteristic that this book carries over from the first.
The only qualms I have with The Uncrowned King lay with the characters and their involvement in the events of the book. I mentioned that they are thrust into very passive roles, and by this I mean that in this book they never really get the chance to fight back. After the events of The King’s Bastard, the world of three of King Rolen’s children whom we follow is in disarray whatever they try to do to fix it seems to be swept away by circumstantial happenings. Nevertheless, it’s always about the fight, and Byren, Piro and Fyn remain some very interesting characters who carry the story well. Though their actions might not be satisfying, their growth as characters is hugely gripping and their development suggests some great things for the final volume of the series.
Daniells has proven again that she can write a book that might not be of the deepest, most complex sort, but is entertaining and well worth the read. The Uncrowned King in some areas, such as an even faster pace, outdoes its predecessor yet in other areas The King’s Bastard was clearly better. Having read this book not long after the first one I can only thank Solaris for publishing The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin in such a quick successive fashion - it makes for a more enjoyable reading experience and is the way in which I can best recommend reading these books. Look for The Usurper, third and final entry in the Trilogy, when it is released at the end of August. My review of it should follow shortly after that.
My Rating: 4 out of 5
Reading Age: 15 and up
Rowena Cory Daniells' Website: http://www.corydaniells.com
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