I received a copy of “For the Killing of Kings,” by Howard Andrew Jones for review. Cirsova Magazine has regularly ad-swapped with Howard Andrew Jones for Tales from the Magicians Skull and has ad-swapped for this title in the Spring issue.
I’ve always been wary of starting new fantasy series that have not yet been completed. The last time I committed myself to such a series, it stalled out after the third of five books (though rumor has it book 4 may finally be coming out!). Given Jones’ track record, I don’t think I’ll have to worry about that, but the wait for the conclusion of a story can be rough. I think this one may be worth it, though.
“A kingdom has enjoyed a fragile peace for seven years after the end of a great war. The final battle of said war and the uneasy peacetime has fragmented the kingdom’s heroic top-cop force, the Altenari. Their previous leader died in the fight, many senior members resigned or went missing, and squires with magic potential are being siphoned out of the corps into a new mage auxiliary. The great fallen hero N’lahr’s sword, kept on display in a reliquary, proves to be an elaborate fake, and conspirators are willing to murder their sworn comrades to maintain the cover-up. As the mystery of the false sword unfolds, the kingdom teeters on the brink of war while its most ardent defenders are hunted down as traitors by their mad sorceress queen and her scheming minions.”
“For the Killing of Kings” is a very modern fantasy, in its style and plotting, in rather sharp contrast with the last book I’d read. It’s not a bad thing, and tastes may vary, but it definitely took some shifting gears to go from a Kline adventure to this. The opening of the book is a very slow burn as Jones builds his mystery and establishes the atmosphere. The multiple perspectives and introspection from some of the characters can drag out the pace of the story in places, but it ultimately evens out. The action is grand and exciting, and while the myriad characters are a bit shallow, they remain endearing.
Admittedly, the one worry I had throughout the book was whether there would be a pay-off at the end. “For the Killing of Kings” is a bit of a brick, and being the first of three bricks, one could understandably be concerned and hope that it not end on too big of a cliff-hanger. “For the Killing of Kings” is more two shorter novels with their chapters interspersed that split off from a common starting point. One of these novels, the one which follows the first group of characters introduced at the beginning of the book who are forced to flee from the conspiracy, delivers a payoff, while the second, which follows characters who initially remained behind and try to unravel the mystery behind the conspiracy, ends with a “darkest hour” cliff-hanger.
Overall, though, the book delivers on its premise: at the beginning of the book, we’re told of a prophecy that a sword will kill a king, and by the end of the book, someone has killed said king with said sword.
Most important, perhaps, is the question of whether I’ll be picking up the other books in the series. Yes, I will, because yes, I want to know how it ends!