Saturday, 20 August 2016

WHICH WILL IT BE? KINGS OR PAWNS

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“Inwardly, the king felt the tug of a greater concern: if Saebellus was not
defeated by Spring, perhaps the country would not survive.”

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Book Title: Kings or Pawns
Series: Steps of Power: The Kings (Book I)
Genre: (Adult) High Fantasy
Release Date: October 1, 2015
Available [Free for Reviewers]: Ebook, Audiobook, Print (to USA/CAN)
Online Tour Dates: August 1 - 31, 2016
BOOK DETAILS
J.J. Sherwood’s debut novel KINGS OR PAWNS: THE KINGS, BOOK 1 is the first in a high fantasy epic series sure to please fans of both the science fiction and fantasy genres.

The year is 8994 P.E., and the city of Elvorium is corrupted—rotted to the core by the machinations of depraved politicians. With his father dead and the country facing a rebellion, Price Hairem becomes the king of the elven world of Sevrigel in one of its most turbulent points in history.

Young and daring, Hairem is determined to eradicate the corruption festering in Elvorium’s self-serving and all-powerful council, which thwarts his best intentions at every turn. But Hairem’s problems are far more sinister¬—and deadly—than merely political. The loyal members of the council are being savagely murdered by an assassin loosed within the city—an assassin whose brutality knows no bounds. Outside of the city, the Lord Saebellus wages a vicious rebellion against the capital. He has been thwarted thus far by the brilliant General Jikun, and Hairem is certain that the general can crush Saebellus.

But instead of continuing the campaign against the warlord, the council orders Jikun’s army to be split, sending him on a mission that furthers only their own wealth and power. Jikun knows that the council’s demands will leave Elvorium vulnerable to an attack from the formidable warlord. Although Saebellus has been recently defeated, he is far from vanquished. As corruption and death threaten to tear the city apart from within, the rebel Saebellus seizes the opportunity to lay siege to Sevrigel’s eastern capital and unleash his most powerful weapon yet: a demonic beast that neither weapon nor magic can kill. With the elven world crumbling around him, Hairem is grasping for his own power to fight against the forces that threaten Sevrigel.

Will Hairem overcome the council’s scheming and duplicity? Can General Jikun defeat the warlord Saebellus? Will this be the war that finally brings Sevrigel to its knees? 



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EXCERPT

     A fierce howl of wind tore in from the north, bringing with it a fleeting chill. The rain pelted against the armor of the soldiers scattered across the earth below as thunder cracked and bellowed in Aersadore’s evening sky. The two armies stumbled and sank into the muddy ground of the canyon floor, voices and weapons lost in the tumult of the raging storm.
      Jikun swung his blade around swiftly and plunged it into the soldier behind him, throwing his weight away to spin back into the teeming mass of enemy troops.
      “General, Saebellus is retreating!!”
      Jikun rounded toward his captain’s shout, seeing the soldier stumble from the fray. His captain lurched to the side, black hair plastered to the sides of his pale face as one hand groped for balance on the face of the canyon wall. The captain tore the clasp from the drenched cloak about his neck, letting it fall to the mud beneath his feet. Relieved of its weight, he pushed free of the canyon’s face and shoved Jikun aside, his blade whistling through the air as he swung high to decapitate the soldier behind him.
      “I know, damn it!” Jikun shouted in return, eyes narrowing against the onslaught of rain. It bit into his flesh like shards of ice, but in the midst of battle, he was hardly aware of the pain. He stepped forward, willing the meager distance to grant him vision through the torrent of rain. Vision of the enemy that lay ahead. A tremble coursed through the earth as thunder cracked once more. A bolt of lightning lit the towering walls of the surrounding canyon, capturing the deep shadows in the jagged stones and the sunken faces of his weathered troops. “Don’t let him escape!” he bellowed to his soldiers, fighting to be heard above the wind, his throat raw. He shoved forward, leaping over the body of a dying soldier, kicking the grasping arm away from him.
      He could see him now.
      Saebellus.
      The throng of fleeing enemy troops had parted, just long enough for Jikun to glimpse him twisting through the grey. The warlord shoved his blade through one of Jikun’s soldiers, grabbing the elf by the hair and wrenching his blade free as the body slumped to the mud. He glanced up abruptly, as though aware of someone’s gaze, and his eyes caught Jikun’s in a moment of calm, cold solidarity: an acknowledgement of each of their roles in the war. Then he turned, raising his hand high. The throng of soldiers closed behind him, fighting to defend the backlines as he and his army fled toward the north.
      For a moment, the image of those emotionless, black voids had stilled Jikun. Then he found his voice, bursting forth louder and stronger in his anger. “Move! MOVE! Don’t let them escape!!” he shouted, a rumble of thunder following his screams with equal fury.
      There came another rumble, resounding almost immediately after the last. It had come too soon.
      Jikun paused, jerking his head upwards along the walls of the canyon, searching the length of sky for the source of the unnatural sound. There was another flash of light from ahead, but this one came red and hot, erupting from the midst of Saebellus’ army. It struck the canyon wall with a ferocious crack that sent a tremor through the earth about them.
      Jikun’s eyes widened in horror. “AVALANCHE!!!” he roared. He stumbled backward, raising an arm above his head. A thick dome of water swept upward from the mud at his feet, freezing as it grew, forming at once into a thick shield of ice that protected him and his surrounding soldiers.
      He could hear the crashing of stones as they plummeted down the mountain face, smashing through the troops and horses before him, plowing through the line of soldiers behind him. They slammed into the side of his icy barricade, hurling him backwards into the far wall.
      And then there was silence.
      Jikun looked up, raising a hand against the ice to let it fall once more to mere water about his body.
      Saebellus and his army were gone.

MY REVIEW

I received this book as part of the current review blog tour. The Author had asked for an honest review, so I am obliged to provide one. 
It is clear that the author had spent a considerable amount of time developing this world and all the characters. In this book characters like Hairem and Ilsevel battled against corrupted council members, stuck in tradition and obstinacy, while General Jikun and Navon fought against Saebellus' army and his dark magic. All in the hope of making Elvorium a better place. The basic premise of good triumphing over evil in the face of adversity and danger always makes for a good story. The characters were well developed and the book well written. A few plot twists thrown in here and there made for an interesting read.
However, the promise of an epic adventure in a world of elves, humans and mythical creatures, was lost in the sub plots, back stories and excessive descriptive detail. Despite the impressive glossary and eloquently drawn map provided, the story was overwhelmed by proper nouns in even more epic proportions. Then, there was often a long disconnect in dialogue, as the characters would disappear in thought during an action or discussion, dragging the reader along with them. 
It would be remiss of me to recommend this book to anyone interested in an easy read. Despite this, I give this book 3 stars. 




THE AUTHOR


J.J. Sherwood lives in Ohio with her husband and four near-identical cats. Her childhood was spent tearing through the woods, playing out fantasy worlds, and tying Barbie to the roof so that the Power Rangers might rescue her. Middle and high school carried on this roleplaying, while college encompassed creating and refining over 250 characters in the world of Aersadore. When not orchestrating the lives and deaths of the people of Aersadore, JJ’s hobbies include drawing, video gaming, wearing a bathrobe, and eating too many baked potatoes.



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