Book Review: War of Kings and Monsters

War of Kings and Monsters by Christopher Keene

War of Kings and Monsters
by Christopher Keene (Goodreads Author)
3 out of 5 stars

Nathan has no idea who he is. He is an apprentice Caller in the king’s home and best friends with Prince Michael, but he has no memory of his family and assumes he is an orphan. He studies under the Master Callers to summon Melkai monsters from another world. Some of the monsters are massive, and others are miniscule, like Nathan’s own little Melkai, a small lizard. The barrier between the world of humans and the world of the Melkai is weakening. Nathan is sent on a quest to find the other half of the magical key that can seal the barriers between worlds before the destructive Melkai are unleashed to roam freely across the land.

I enjoyed the plot of this book, because there are some clever twists and turns. There are several times when some particular character or object or connection is revealed and it was just so satisfying. The plot is full of fantasy tropes, but I didn’t really mind that because I like tropes. Some of the plot devices were obvious, but again, I don’t mind that as long as it is set up in an interesting way.

There are several plot holes, mainly when the characters make weird decisions that don’t really make sense. Why did they go there? What is their motivation? Why did they say that? … Plot reasons. That’s why.

I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. Their dialogue is awkward. Their personalities are cardboard. I am a character-driven reader, so this was a big disappointment for me. The characters were always making awkward jokes that actually made me physically cringe in embarrassment for them.

The pacing is fairly good, and the action is exciting. I got a little bored with the battles and fight scenes, but then I am always bored by battles and fight scenes, so that is not a reflection on the quality of those scenes.

I loved the history of the world and how that gave so much depth to the story. Nathan has to find out about the ancient legends of the past in order to solve the problems of his own day. The world-building is quite good as far as epic and far-reaching development, but the minutiae of the everyday lives of the characters was lacking.

The writing style is fine, but not amazing. There were many places where the wording of a sentence was awkward; not actually grammatically incorrect, but just… could have been clearer or better constructed. It pulled me out of the story, so that I never forgot that I was reading a story.

There is a little bit of “telling” instead of “showing” in the writing. Not much, but it did annoy me. The narrator sometimes points out the obvious, ruining the pacing and making me roll my eyes.

Sometimes the dialogue would be in an imitation of high-style old-timey English. Not actually using “thee” and “thou”, but just a formal style of speech for the characters. (A lot of epic fantasy uses this style to give the reader that ambience of knights and dragons.) But then the very next line of dialogue would be something like “okay” or “It’s a date.” I was dismayed to read these strangely different styles.

One of my pet peeves is multiple POVs or weirdly omniscient narrators who “head-hop”. This book doesn’t do it terribly often, but it does do it, and it was not enjoyable.

Overall, a few good things in this book; a few things that I did not enjoy. I feel like the book has potential if only a really good editor could get in there and polish it up.

This book has no profanity or explicit content, and is appropriate for readers aged 11 and up. There is quite a lot of violence, but it isn’t too gory.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts, and are not influenced by anyone.

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