Monday, September 10, 2007

My thoughts on 'The Bastard King'

by Dan Chernenko.

This was my first foray into reading fantasy. It took me awhile to get into the book, both plot-wise and just reading wise. I'm really a fast reader and would have normally knocked out a book this size in half the time. So I don't know if it was because it was fantasy and I had a hard time getting into this alternate world or if the story just really dragged.

The story was about... gosh, I don't know...lots of stuff. In my writing world (that would be romance) there's a beginning, a middle, and an end - even when the book is part of a series. This book was really just a beginning. In my writing world there are two protagonists (hero & heroine), the villain, and maybe a few secondary characters.

This story has a succession of characters throughout the first third of the book... it started with an old king who finally had a son by one of his concubines. He married her to legitimize his son, however the gods only allow for six wives and this concubine made number seven. So to most of the kingdom, the child remained a bastard. The old king died while the child was young, and others ruled in his stead until he came of age.

This world has a lot of troubles and through a series of events, eventually a lowly ship's captain takes the throne. He doesn't exile or kill the bastard king, though. He offers to share the throne. Huh?

So we have the rightful king, who has very little power - lots of brains and very learned, but not a powerful man in the way people of his kingdom consider power - i.e. brute force. The usurper has the brute force, although he rules with an evenhandedness and penchant for thinking ahead before running into battles. He gets the kingdom under control and keeps the enemies at bay.

Now the Banished One is in exile to the south after falling from his position in the heavens as *the* preeminent god - and is considered the cause of all troubles wrought against this kingdom.

By the end of the book, it seems neither king, the two major characters of the book, have done much growing or changing, except they seem to grown to respect each other and what each has to offer to the kingdom. Also, the usurper forced the bastard to marry his daughter, so add some familial aspects to that relationship...

The next story is going to a quest for the Scepter of Mercy, supposedly a powerful thing which could offer the kings power against the Banished One.

Well, I wasn't really impressed with it. But maybe it was just this story. I don't know if I just couldn't really sink myself into this fantasy world or if it just really wasn't a good book. If you've read it, let me know your thoughts.

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