Corruption reigns on the elven world of Sevrigel. The government is run by a council of Elves and King Silandrus being fed up with the political situation left the city of Elvorium with his supporters called the true bloods years ago. After the death of his father Prince Hairem is now in charge of the Elven kingdom and he plans on bringing peace to Sevrigel.
This is no easy task, the council of Elves has their own interests they are working against him and a warlord named Saebellus is threatening to take over Sevrigel’s Eastern capital. To make matters worse an assassin is loose in the city and killing members of the Elven council. Hairem has the impossible task of fixing the corrupt Elven council, bringing peace to his world and trying to figure out who is his friend and who is trying to manipulate him.
Kings Or Pawns by J J Sherwood is a work of Epic fantasy. In all honesty I’m a horror fan and not a huge fan of fantasy but I was sold on this book by the cover art. When I started it I saw the glossary of terms and map of the world where it takes place and I thought I’m not going to like this. I enjoy a book that creates its own mythology but I get bored with too much world building. I decided to read on and became hooked on the characters.
In chapter one there is a discussion between two of the characters Jikun and Navon on religion. Navon talks about going to a religious temple to give thanks and Jikun says he will not thank the gods until he sees them at work. I love the debate they have and at this point you think this is going to be a serious novel but then later you get a little humor as Navon starts to read Jikun’s poetry even though Jikun doesn’t want him to. We then meet Hairem and learn that he is not what you expect a king to be and he hints that he will do things different then his father did but he doesn’t have as much power as he thinks.
I felt like this book was a political thriller first and foremost. I loved the character of Hairem, he is idealistic and believes he can change things but he learns while dealing with the Elven council that he is not really in charge and at one point he asks himself am I a king or just a pawn of the council. To add another layer to it we see the people who are giving him advice and are left to wonder what is everyone’s agenda here and everyone in this book does have an agenda. Even when it comes to his love interest you wonder is she loyal to the king or her father who is on the council and working against Hairem. We also get to know Harem’s servant girl Alvena who despite being low on the social ladder shows that she is quite intelligent and I loved that the king thinks of her as important despite her standing in society.
I love how the groundwork is set in the beginning of this book. Little by little you learn more about the world they live in and you are completely invested in the story as a political thriller before it becomes an action adventure story. Calling it epic fantasy almost seems like an understatement. It works on a lot of different levels and what really surprised me is that it’s from a first time author. J.J. Sherwood has spent 20 years writing this book and planning out the world where it takes place. You can see that this book was a labor of love, it’s well written and a fun ride. This is the first in a series and it introduces a world that mirrors are own in some ways but is very different in terms of mythology. If you love fantasy you have to read Kings Or Pawns.