“Now a slave, Piro finds herself in the Merofynian Palace where, if her real identity is discovered, she will be executed. Meanwhile, Fyn is desperate to help his brother, Bryen, who is now the uncrowned King. Bryen never sought power but now he finds himself at the centre of a dangerous resistance movement as the people of Rolencia flee vicious invaders. How can Byren defeat the invaders, when half his warriors are women and children, and the other half are untrained boys and old men?”
The third book of The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin picks up right where #2 left off, and as with the second book it feels like part of what should have been one complete volume. For me this ‘series’ would have worked really well as a single volume epic, and other than financial reasons I can’t see why it was split. The individual volumes are small, the font is large and you can read each one in two days, max. I don’t think this is something I’ve ever felt about a series before, but for me the splits in each book felt irritatingly artificial. And even with this third and originally ‘final’ volume, there are still so many loose ends left that I would imagine I’m going to say exactly the same about book four when it’s released next year. If I’d read this series when it originally came out, that ending would have had me properly narked, to get to the end of a series and still have no answers to the biggest questions..well..I’d have been wanting my monies back!
As it stands I know there’s more to come, and soon, so I’m kind of OK with being left hanging, but I do think that in general authors have a ‘duty of care’ to readers who’ve bombed through a series to find out what happens and then…don’t find out what happens. ‘Tis annoying.
In essence, if you’ve enjoyed books one and two of King Rolen’s Kin you’re going to enjoy the third one. It’s more of the same Soap Opera-esque fantasy romp. The story widens out a bit in The Usurper, and we get to visit more places and meet more characters. Broadens! that’s the word I’m looking for, the whole feel of the story takes on a wider impact and a broader viewpoint. I liked that aspect of it.
The Soap Opera thing..I should probably try and explain better. There are huge amount of improbable coincidences here, and you can judge by how many sentences begin with the word ‘luckily’ that this isn’t the most plausible of plots you’re going to have ever read. The main characters are all running around individually, each taking the blame for all that’s happened, each trying to guess what’s happened to everyone else, and each falling in love with someone and not wanting to say anything. There’s a lot of frustration here, I’m not sure if Daniells isn’t comfortable with the whole romance aspect…or just likes keeping everyone hanging…or what. It really is like an implausible and maddening, but at the same time completely unmissable soap.
I genuinely did enjoy this one, as I’ve enjoyed the series, even though there are niggles along the way. I think to get the best out of it you have to be ready to fully suspend all disbelief and to just sit back and have a bit of fun. Fans of Martin and Erikson are not going to find King Rolen’s Kin satisfying. But that said, even when you love steak, sometimes it’s nice to just nip out every now and then and have a cheeseburger. That’s what this series felt like, an enjoyable cheeseburger. You’re not completely satisfied when you get to the end, and you feel a bit guilty, but you enjoy it all the same! and you wouldn’t mind another one…..