Publisher: Silver Helm
Hairem, Jikun, Navon, Ilsevel
Set in the fantasy Elven realm of Sevrigel, Kings or Pawns is the first book in J. J. Sherwood’s epic fantasy series Steps of Power.
With a young new king and a war that has lasted many lifetimes still furiously waging on, Sevrigel looks for a period of peace. However, the new king Hairem seeks to revolutionise the way Sevrigel is ruled and wishes to wrestle power away from the corrupt, selfish Council of Elders whom has controlled the capital city Elvorium for centuries. Nevertheless, Hairem must tread carefully as the council will not give up their powers easily. Hundreds of years of self-motivated policies have provided the Council with both power and wealth and they are not above murder to ensure that their demands are filled. The young king must look to his old and new allies for help as he tries to press his will on the council.
Jikun is the General and supreme commander of the Elvorian army. After fighting years against his nemesis Saebellus, he is growing weary of war and weary of the southern rulers he has been serving for a lifetime. Jikun wishes to return to the cold north of his childhood and hunt the wild and dangerous Thakish with his old comrades. However, with the cunning Saebellus on the loose in Sevrigel, Jikun knows he cannot leave the army until his duty is done. When an opportunity arises that seems too good to be true, Jikun snatches it in the hopes of finally defeating Saebellus and ending the war for good.
For me this was really a book of two halves. The first half had me totally engrossed with the political intrigue between Hairem and the Council. In addition, I extremely enjoyed Jikun’s back story. I thought Darvial was a unique part of the Sevrigelian world and I’m excited to learn more about his past and his upbringing in Darvial. I think Sherwood did a fantastic job of fleshing out her world in this half of the book and instantly had me engrossed with the situation in Elvorium and what Hairem’s plans were to try and fix it.
However, the second half took away from this and added new characters which we had not met before and completely forgets about some major plots points opened up in the first half of the novel, especially ones about Nilanis. All these new characters then go on a mission together to rescue a princess that has been captured. I felt this new plot point came out of nowhere with no real explanation as to why the princess was taken. Later on in the novel you find out why she was captured, however it still seemed a little random and strange and I honestly think the rescue mission didn’t need to be in the book. Then for no apparent reason, Jikun goes to fight a war against centaurs, which for me bogged down the plot line and again seemed kind of pointless. With both of these points I knew what the author wanted to do, but wish both sub plots could have been done a little differently or not at all to keep the pace of the narrative going.
Nevertheless, at the end of the book there was a great, though predictable twist, which had me speeding through the last 100 eBook pages just like I did with the first half of the book, so this was a redeeming quality after the slow and somewhat random second half of the novel.
All in all this was a good book and good start to the Steps of Powers series. The ending made me extremely curious for book two and I’m looking forward to reading it!
Kings or Pawns is like a mix of Tolkien and George R. R. Martin. So if you like political intrigue mixed in with high fantasy then I think you will really enjoy this book.
I’d like to say thank you to J. J. Sherwood for including me in her blog tour and providing me with a copy of her book. Can’t wait to start the second novel in the series Heroes or Thevies!
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