Kings & Daemons by Marcus Lee
Some Information about the book
- Title: Kings & Daemons
- Author : Marcus Lee
- Series: The Gifte & The Cursed
- Page Length: 416
- Publisher: Self Published
Grim and hopeful at the same time, Marcus Lee’s debut is an enjoyable tale of magic, possessed knights, dark lords and Daemons.
The story starts with the birth of our hero, Maya, in a land that has been oppressed by the Witch King. This is a land ruled by darkness and the maternal mortality rate is incredibly high, as is the mortality of everyone around. However, Maya is special and her light shines through the misery that is bestowed on the land by the Witch King.
As Maya grows, she has to hide her gift from those around her, for if her powers are detected she will be sent to the witch king to suffer whatever fate befalls those who have talents.
Marcus Lee’s Kings and Daemons is a mesmerising tale of love, redemption and heroism set in a world ruled by cruelty and misery. However, not only is the land harsh, but the suffering has permeated every aspect of people’s lives who live in the conquered Ember Kingdom and they have become just as twisted as the land they live in.
I really enjoyed Marcus Lee’s Kings and Daemons. It is filled with rich characters and has an elegant writing style that reminds me of old fashioned high adventures like Lorna Doone. Lee has a unique writing style that I have not come across before. It almost reminds you of a storyteller recounting tales by a fire as he tells the story of Maya and those around her. The story is in parts a coming of age story, a chivalric romance and a tale of redemption. However, Lee manages to combine these elements with a modern aesthetic of dark fantasy, melding the two successfully.
At its heart, it is not a dark book. Whilst everything around Maya is full of grimness and dark foreboding, Lee always manages to maintain a corona of light on the horizon. Whether that be with the redemption of Rakan, the friendship and eventual romance of Maya and Taran or the hope that the land will be healed from the malady of the Witch King’s grip and ultimately healed.
The story takes place from the point of view of the main characters, Maya, Taran, Rakan, Kallas and the Witch King himself, Daleth. And later in the book, there is the addition of the supporting characters of Astren, a seer who can travel in the spirit world and King Tristan. King of the Freestates, who is about to bear the invasion of the Witch King in his bid to take over the Freestates and drain the life from them as he has done with the Ember Kingdioms.
I fell under the spell of each of these individual characters, Maya who is at heart gentle and caring. Taran, who initially bumbles from one situation to the next, which eventually leads him into a choice that he didn't make. Rakan, who whilst initially bad, experiences acceptance and ultimately some form of redemption.
Everybody's favourite Kallas is an interesting character, and he certainly lives up to his name throughout most of the book, dispatching all around him in a callous and bloody fashion. And finally, we have the Witch King himself.
For me, the most interesting characters were certainly Daleth and Rakan. I know that in terms of entertainment value Kallas is pretty much up there, but Daleth and Rakan are the ones that stood out for me.
Rakan’s transformation from an angry and cruel individual to exactly the opposite is really good (although, he does still threaten everyone), and I thought I would like to see a book about Rakan and his time as a Nightstalker. Daleth is the most human of monsters, employing fear and coercion as a means to gain power. Yes, you can understand his motivations due to his gift and everything that he has endured. However, he continues the cycle willingly and with brutality and no remorse for the destruction that he causes.
The world of Kings and Daemons is richly imagined and there is a well thought out history to make the world believable and to provide the backdrop to the story. Whilst the environment is damaged, it is interesting to see that with the nudge of Maya’s magic, it appears to be lying dormant. Initially, it seems to be a world of black and white. However, vibrant sprigs of colour are introduced when Maya uses her magic more and more throughout the land, healing it in some small way, and when this happens, we see that nature can be nurtured and that it will bounce back from the pestilence that has blighted it.
And finally, we have to mention the magic system. I like that magic has a cost, and it is not used as a deus ex machina that cures all. Each power takes its toll in its own individual way, affecting the person singularly and Marcus illustrates the cost on those that use magic in an imaginative way (I don’t want to go into it too much as I don’t want to give spoilers).
The plot and the pacing hold up throughout the story, moving it towards the culmination of this part of the story. At times it moves along with gentle flow, and at others moving like a fast flowing torrent, sometimes slowing as Lee builds the relationships between the characters of the book.
As you can guess, I enjoyed this first book of the Gifted and the Curse and I am looking forward to the next book in the trilogy and seeing what happens at Tristan’s Folly.