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The King

David Feintuch

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Ace Books

Published : 2003

Copyright : David Feintuch 2003

ISBN-10 : PB 0-441-01037-7
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-441-01037-0

Publisher's Write-Up

Renowned as the author of the best-selling Nicholas Seafort saga, David Feintuch branched out into the world of magic and adventure with his critically acclaimed novel, The Still.

Called “the best fantasy of the year” by Science Fiction Chronicle, it introduced Rodrigo, the brash young prince of Caledon. Now, his story continues…

With his kingdom still reeling from the war that set the crown of Caledon upon his head, Rodrigo must prove himself bold, decisive, and ruthless to keep his throne amid the terrifying invasion of the brutal Norlanders. Hounded and driven from castle to keep, Rodrigo must rally his scheming nobles and inspire his stricken realm. And the power of the Still – the ability to find the wisdom of his ancestors in pools of quiet water – is a frail weapon indeed against the Norland hordes.

Rodrigo can truly trust only one of his companions, his boyhood friend Rustin, who must protect him from his own rash courage – as well as his many foes...

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Nadine (310804) Rating (8/10)

Review by Nadine
Rating 8/10
I was anxious to get to grips with this as soon as I finished its predecessor – The Still. This sequel picks up the story of Rodrigo – newly crowned King of Caledon - just as his Kingdom comes under threat from the brutal, barbaric Norlanders. His recently developed skills in diplomacy, tactics and leadership are thoroughly tested, as he tries to hold his realm together in the face of war. I thought it was every bit as good as The Still.

There are an awful lot of battle scenes, which don’t normally do much for me, but here they are rather exciting and after all, it’s a book about war so it’s only to be expected. There did come a point where I got a bit fed up with all the military business, and another point where I almost gave up because I was at risk of an emotional breakdown if something didn’t go right for Rodrigo soon!

But I couldn’t stop reading. Without realising it, I had become rather fond of many of the characters. Surprising, really, because the author doesn’t seem to go into much depth in describing them. Less is evidently more when developing a believable character, because they all seemed pretty darned real to me. I didn’t notice just how real until one of them died, leaving me gasping with shock, grief and genuine bereavement.

Oh, yes. Just like The Still, this one made me shed more than a few tears. But there was also the same subtle humour to lift the tension when necessary – for example a tense and nerve-wracking moment where Rodrigo embarks on a raid to destroy a fleet of Norland ships – only to discover that he suffers from seasickness. There was also one notable moment where I actually jumped out of my seat and whooped with joy. Anyone who has read it will know exactly which part I mean.

I have a couple of minor criticisms. Firstly, it was perhaps a bit predictable. At certain significant points in the plot I found myself smiling knowingly and thinking “I know what he’s going to do”. However the foreknowledge did nothing to quell my enjoyment when he did. And there were still a number of unexpected twists… just to keep me from getting too smug.

Also, I could have wished for a happier ending. There were a lot of bad things happening to good people towards the end, which I felt were not strictly necessary. While the ending had a certain hopefulness about it, it wasn’t enough to overcome the sadness. It would have been nice to close the book with a feeling of triumph and satisfaction – poor Rodrigo deserved nothing less after all he went through – but I actually closed it with a sigh and a wish that things had gone a bit better for him. Somehow victory doesn’t feel very victorious, when it has been at such a high cost. Perhaps that is the point the author intended to make all along.

There doesn’t appear to be much scope for a third book. While there is one particular loose end that I would love to see tied up, there was a tone of finality and the undeniable feeling that this chapter in Rodrigo’s life is well and truly over. Any sequels would have to be of a very different style and theme, and I think that would defeat the object somewhat. I’d quite like to be proved wrong on this point, though. If a third book is published I will be first in the queue at Waterstones on that day.

Overall, it’s a gripping, touching story about some wonderful characters. A real page-turner with a fascinating plot and background. I’d just really like to take my editing pen to the last few chapters and cross out a few of the upsetting bits.
Nadine (31st August 2004)

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