Kingshold by D. P. Woolliscroft

Series: Wildfire Circle #1 Rating: 4.25/5
Date of Publishing: April 30th 2018 Genre: epic fantasy, sword & sorcery
Format: Kindle Available: Amazon
Number of pages: 508 Author’s website: http://dpwoolliscroft.com/

“Tyranny, in my eyes, is not when the ruler does injustice on their own people; that’s plain and simple evil. Tyranny is the taking away of choice, the enslavement of all, even is some of the subjects may have jewel-encrusted manacles.”

– Jyuth

Blurb

Mareth is a bard, a serial under achiever, a professional drunk, and general disappointment to his father. Despite this, Mareth has one thing going for him. He can smell opportunity. The King is dead and an election for the new Lord Protector has been called. If he plays his cards right, if he can sing a story that will put the right person in that chair, his future fame and drinking money is all but assured. But, alas, it turns out Mareth has a conscience after all.

Neenahwi is the daughter to Jyuth, the ancient wizard who founded the Kingdom of Edland and she is not happy. It’s not just that her father was the one who killed the King, or that he didn’t tell her about his plans. She’s not happy because her father is leaving, slinking off into retirement and now she has to clean up his mess.

Alana is a servant at the palace and the unfortunate soul to draw the short straw to attend to Jyuth. Alana knows that intelligence and curiosity aren’t valued in someone of her station, but sometimes she can’t help herself and so finds herself drawn into the Wizard’s schemes, and worst of all, coming up with her own plans.

Chance brings this unlikely band together to battle through civil unrest, assassinations, political machinations, pirates and monsters, all for a common cause that they know, deep down, has no chance of succeeding – bringing hope to the people of Kingshold.

Personal notes

I’ve got an ARC of Kingshold, so I’d like to thank D. P. Woolliscroft for reaching out to me asking for a request and providing me a copy.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from this one and I’ll be honest, I decided to read it because it has a bard! Bard = music = totally sold to me. Yeah, I’m pretty simple. To read a debut book from an author is always a bit of a gamble, especially if it’s self-published. Even though the fantasy community had been spoiled with awesome, talented authors in recent years which makes it a hard competition for readers’ attention. Especially since they expect the best. Rightly so. Anyway, let me give a shout out to Mr Woolliscroft and his debut novel Kingshold because we all know how hard it is to give life to a book.

Review

The plot (at least in the beginning) is pretty simple: the King and Queen are dead by the hands of the ancient wizard Jyuth and although most people are happy with this outcome, the kingdom needs a leader nonetheless. And so Jyuth decides he had enough of kingmaking and lets the good people of Kingshold decide their own fate – if they have the money to vote, that is.

Thus, the race for the Lord Protector title begins: the most promising candidates are Lord Eden and Hoxteth, with General Uthridge, Lady Kingsley and others on the sidelines. Some of them stops at nothing to get what they want, assassination, bribing and inspiring civil unrest are among the tools they use.

There are a handful of people who in the chaos try to make the best of the situation and not only save the city from the hands of incompetent, greedy, weak leaders but from enemies outside of the borders. Neenahwi is not really happy with this turn of events, especially that Jyuth wants to leave her in charge in his place after the election and decides to take matters in her hands. Seeking out the candidates to learn their ways, to see what they can offer to the people and facing her past she doesn’t really want to. Mareth takes the opportunity to be part of history, to commemorate it, so not only his songs but his name would be known for generations to come. He has no idea however, how much this election will change his life. Add to the mix the three troublemaker Motega, Florian and Trypp who just arrived back to the city after 10 years of being away, building a reputation for themselves. All of them are brought together by Alana, a simple servant girl from the Narrows with intelligence and more wit than most of the nobles, with a curiosity and hunger for knowledge, for helping not only her family, but the whole city.

If you think a book about an election is boring, then read Kingshold and see for yourself if you were right. If you get to 40% and don’t wonder how did you read this much already, then probably it’s not your cup of tea. It stands for those too, who don’t like to follow multiple POV’s. Although I have to say they are easy to follow and they are all distinguished from each other so no confusion there. The writing itself is good, we don’t get overwhelmed much with descriptions, the background of the characters are introduced nicely and they are well built. It’s hard to admit, but I can’t even complain about the female characters. Because of the several POV’s it’s a bit hard to build a connection with the characters – and there is not one favored MC, all of them are treated somehow equally – even though everyone will find their favorite. However, the dialogues are needing some improvement. Sometimes they make you roll your eyes, sometimes it’s obvious they are used as info dumpings and I still don’t understand what’s with british people using each others’ names every damn time. Let’s see a made up example (please note that this is not actually in the book):

“Mareth!”
“Yes, Petra dear?”
“I love your songs, Mareth. Please never stop singing!”
“Thanks, Petra, you are a darling. Jules!”
“Yes, Mareth?”
“Give us an extra round, will you, Jules?”
“Of course Mareth, my pleasure!”

Okay, I might have exaggerated a bit, but you get my meaning. Also, some punches would have been bigger hits if they were handled better. Most of the time early hints are well placed, you totally disregard them and so you are surprised when they get back, but some were not so subtle. No details, otherwise I would spoil things for readers. Suffice to say, the editing needs a bit of work, but again, this is a debut book, and a pretty good one at that.

It’s quite obvious some of the events in this book are inspired by real historical events, especially Edland’s history, the way Edward got to lead: I could sense a nod to the battle of Hastings and to the Arthurian legends as well. Might be my imagination though, because it’s pretty subtle.

Overall, Kingshold is a great debut novel which has potential to be even better as the series will go on. The story has a nice arc, most of the questions are answered, but there are enough left open to keep you interested. Although the ending was quite predictable, a little twist of events made its way into it, which you couldn’t see coming. D. P. Woolliscroft pulls the strings effortlessly, making an otherwise boring election into something exciting like a car race. You never know what will happen next and which candidate will have to take a break a little too early. Or when a monster or other enemy pops up to make the race a little more interesting in general. If you like your book heavy with political intrigues and schemes, a few monsters here and there with some other fantasy creatures (strawberry blowing pyxies!) appearing, spiced with a little magic, then don’t look more, Kingshold is for you!

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