AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: https://www.dpwoolliscroft.com/
SERIES: The Wildfire Cycle
PUBLISHED: April 17, 2018 (Self-published)
GENRE: Epic fantasy
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.
Kingshold is an incredible political fantasy debut that could be the initial stepping stone for a truly remarkable series. This book has been on my radar for quite some time and I’m really glad I’ve finally gotten to dive into this fascinating world the author has so meticulously created.
The city of Kingshold is in upheaval after the unexpected assassination of its king and queen and dissolution of its monarchy. For the first time in history, the decision of who rules will be in the hands of its citizens – or at least those that can afford a voice. In a campaign to determine who will assume the mantle of Lord Protector, prominent figures emerge as favorites. However, after witnessing the social injustices of the current lay of the land, a group of unlikely compatriots are steadfast in their resolve to bring change that will benefit all in the city and not just those in the Upper Circle.
There are so many things to praise in this story, the characters and setting topping the list. We spend most of our time in the sprawling city of Kingshold, so finely constructed and detailed by Woolliscroft, that it becomes comfortably familiar. The hierarchical social structure directly affecting the layout of the different districts, each inhabited by realistic people making the environment tangible. Whether running across rooftops in the slums or meditating in a palace chamber, you feel as though you’ve truly been transported into this world.
We’re introduced to a wonderful cast of beautifully developed, colorful characters, all of different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The story has a large group of point of view characters, but the author seamlessly weaves them together to keep the story flow fluid and easy to follow. Lately I’ve been on a binge of darker fantasy and I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to spend time with a group of likable protagonists that aren’t apparently masking malice with charm.
Another thing I adored about this story was its organic and almost lighthearted humor. As we’re dealing with a story of political intrigue peppered with assassinations and suppression of the common people, there’s always a chance that adding splashes of humor can feel forced or out of place – this is definitely not the case with Kingshold. Woolliscroft manages to expose very serious concepts in a natural way without dipping into the darker aspects that are currently flooding the fantasy genre.
Thanks to SPFBO and a larger focus on self-published writers, I’ve had the honor of reading some impressive works by authors that I may not have heard of otherwise. This story is no exception. There are a few loose ends that need tying and I’m really looking forward to continuing my journey in the Jeweled Continent in future installments of The Wildfire Cycle. I highly recommend.