King of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Having read the far majority of all of Feist's works before now, and even doing so recently, I was pretty astounded to learn that he had a NEW fantasy series. One that requires no previous knowledge or the need to rely on vast previous worldbuilding.
In other words, this is a perfect book to jump into, assuming you want an absolutely gorgeous and detailed kingdom, some rather fully-fleshed out political entities, and two ideal YA character-candidates reminiscent of some of Feist's much earlier (and excellent) work involving two rather precocious princelings. Or their sons.
This is also Feist at the top of his game. He's learned many hard lessons over the years and he has honed all his best strengths into building this book into one hell of a grand Epic Fantasy intro. War hasn't come, but the trap has been laid.
It's unfortunate how much I love these two main characters.
A brilliant young Smith on the rise, kin to the Barony but unknown to any but the Baron and his bastard brother.
And another orphan who is the last son of a king of the Firemanes, red-headed people betrayed and wiped out... who also happens to be the source of magic in the land. He is saved on a whim by the Baron who betrayed his father to death, was allowed to be raised in secret by a clan of assassins.
This couldn't bite anyone in the butt. I'm sure of it.
And yet, with this rather traditional High-Fantasy treatment, I must stress that the devil is truly in the details. It rises and falls with how good the writing is, how invested we get, and how much fun we have.
This book not only holds up well against any modern standard but goes quite a bit farther in that it has deep, wide-reaching roots and a fantastically enjoyable tone.
In other words, ya'll be fools to pass this up if you're into good modern fantasy written by a master of the field with all the heart of the classics (some of which, HE WROTE).
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