- Title: The King’s Sword
- Author: C. J. Brightley
- Series: Erdemen Honor #1
- Genre: Adventure, Fantasy
- Format: eBook
- Source: Author-provided review copy
- Reviewed by: Valerie
- Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Description: A riveting tale of honor, courage, and friendship.
The King’s Sword is a gripping first-person narrative of a warrior’s honor and a friendship that shapes a nation. When retired, disillusioned soldier Kemen Sendoa finds the young prince fleeing a coup, he wrestles with questions of duty and honor as he reluctantly takes the role of mentor. An outsider, Kemen loves his country but has no place in it. Will he be able to keep the prince alive and carve his own place in the shadow of the crown?
Review: The King’s Sword has all the makings of a great adventure tale. A king dies and political treachery ensues. As a young prince flees for his life, he meets an honorable ex-soldier who decides to help. Danger abounds!
This is a tough book to classify. It is written at a level to be accessible to YA readers and follows a bit of a coming of maturity story, but it really isn’t YA at all. I would call it an easy to read adventure story. Yet, it has strong elements of violence and death. The story setting is based in classic swordplay of an imaginary realm, but it lacks the magical component that would traditionally characterize it as fantasy. My difficulty in classifying this book is not a criticism. Quite the opposite! The blending of styles works well for this book.
One thing that IS clear, The King’s Sword is a story about friendship. The strength of the book lies in the depth of the relationship that develops between the young prince, Hakan, and the aging outcast soldier, Kemen. While the relationship began as one of mentor and student, it evolved into one of mutual respect and admiration.
Brightley uses the challenges faced by Hakan and Kemen to allow each character to reveal their strengths and also to bare their vulnerabilities to one another. In the beginning, Kemen’s frustrated with Hakan because he’s a frightened and spoiled youth. Later, the soldier realizes the prince is afraid of failing his country. It is this sense of Hakan’s underlying sense of honor that spurs Kemen into the role of protector and mentor as they flee the assassins that seek to eliminate Hakan’s claim to the throne. At the same time, as Hakan’s confidence grows, he is able to recognize Kemen’s struggle to fit into a world that fears him and his commitment to a kingdom that abandoned him.
There were several key moments in the story that moved me, mostly centered on the relationship between Hakan and Kemen and the depth of their characters. I won’t be responsible for ruining any moments for you (I suspect you will recognize them when you come to them), but I will say that Brightley did a great job of using the plot to develop both characters.
There were times when the overall plot dragged a little and sometimes the author kind of beat a dead horse. Hakan will never be a great swordsman. Kemen is really self-conscious about that fact that he cannot read. I also felt that the ending was just the tiniest bit anti-climactic. Regardless, I would say The King’s Sword was an overall enjoyable read.
Cover note: I liked almost everything about this cover. It has a lot of really good elements. The background effect of aged parchment and the wooden texture of the same color lend itself to the setting of the story. The layout is well-balanced and the fonts were well-chosen. The concept of the mounted soldier silhouetted against the backdrop should play out well to capture the sense of honor and loneliness experience by both Kemen and Hakan, however the rider in the image lacks definition and the angles are bit awkward. Because the rider is such a focal point, it really takes away from the overall impact of the cover.