KINGS OF PARADISE BY RICHARD NELL
Been a while hasn't it?
How has everyone been?
Thought I would visit the blogosphere a little with a few reviews!
I read this one a while ago (must continue with this series). It's Kings of Paradise by Richard Nell
A deformed genius plots vengeance while struggling to survive. A wastrel prince comes of age, finding a power he never imagined. Two worlds are destined to collide.
Only one can be king.
Ruka, called a demon at birth, is a genius. Born malformed and ugly into the snow-covered wasteland of the Ascom, he was spared from death by his mother's love. Now he is an outcast, consumed with hate for those who've wronged him. But to take his vengeance, he must first survive. Across a vast sea in the white-sand island paradise of Sri Kon, Kale is fourth and youngest son of the Sorcerer King. And at sixteen, Kale is a disappointment. As the first prince ever forced to serve with low-born marines, Kale must prove himself and become a man, or else lose all chance of a worthy future, and any hope to win the love of his life. Though they do not know it, both boys are on the cusp of discovery. Their worlds and lives are destined for greatness, or ruin.
But in a changing world where ash meets paradise, only one man can be king... The first installment of an epic, low- fantasy trilogy. Kings of Paradise is a dark, bloody, coming-of-age story shaped by culture, politics, and magic
It’s not very often when I read a book that I have to take a minute following certain scenes in a book, but Kings of Paradise certainly did just that.
The book sets its stall out from the very first scene in the book when we meet Ruka who is cannibalising another boy in order to survive.
‘Ruka stared at the corpse of the boy he’d killed, and his stomach growled. He built a small fire despite the risk, cutting off the limb flesh with his sharpest knife, placing it in his iron pot with thyme’
(This kid must have been taking tips from Gordon Ramsey!)
The story of Ruka then flashes back to tell how Ruka found himself in this sorry state. Deformed and shunned by the villagers who believe him cursed, Ruka’s life is a hard one. Following the death of his mother, he is proclaimed an outlaw and has to survive in the harsh lands of the North. However, he was not always so, and when we move past the initial brutal opening, we discover that Ruka was in fact a sweet child that was brutalised by the harsh society that he grew up in and that he had to become worse than those around him to survive.
In addition to Ruka, there is the tale of Kale, a rich princeling in a group of islands that seems to resemble a Polynesian setting. When we first meet Kale, he is a good for nothing layabout, but as the story progresses and his character arc expands, and he becomes much more. Forced into the Island nation’s navy, he has to survive the harsh training and an even harsher father.
Both the stories resemble a coming-of-age kind of tale; however, the two boys are the antithesis of each other. One is brought up in the most privileged of circumstances, and the other in the lowest depths of poverty.
The world building that Richard Nell does is fantastic, as he moves away from the classical fantasy tropes of a medieval setting and gives a richer, vivid multicultural background, populated with a number of different races and cultures. Ruka seems to come from a proto-Norse society, whilst Kale’s as I have said previously, resembles a Polynesian society. Furthermore, I liked that the society that Ruka comes from is a matriarchal society.
In addition to that, both the characters are fantastic. Ruka is a perfect antihero, whilst Kale reminded me of the Emperors Blades by Brian Stavely.
Now, there is a third point of view in the story that is introduced partway through the story, that of Dala, a young girl whose life is forcibly blown apart when she crosses paths with Ruka. Whilst some may feel that Dala’s POV is not the strongest, I really enjoyed her arc and the way that she manipulates those around her to get what she wants.
Whilst I enjoyed this book, I did have some minor problems with the story. For one, I get really bored with the horny teenager trope, and there is lots of that in Kale’s story. Also, the pacing of the book did go a little awry at times, spending too much time on certain characters but not really moving the book forwards. In addition to that, the book flits from different time periods and goes backwards and forwards with no point of reference.
However, these were minor points and did not spoil my enjoyment overall. Now, I must mention that in parts this book is bloody gruesome and had me pulling my sucking a lemon face at times as I winced at some of the descriptions of the violence in it.
I have the next book lined up and cannot wait to see what happens next in this story.