Author: J. J. Sherwood
Published: October 2015
The True Bloods left Sevrigel after failing to curb the selfish control the Council of Elves has over the King of Sevrigel and the decisions needed to be made in the country. King Liadeltris, the first king of non-royal blood has passed away and the throne is passed on to his son, Hairem, who is still inexperienced in the responsibilities of a king but is fuelled with the desire to prevent the council from wrecking any more troubles. The only elf with pure intentions, King Hairem has to challenge every decision the council makes and try to sway as many as he can to his side. When he meets Ilsevel, the daughter of Nilanis, the El’adorium, he hopes that capturing her heart would has its advantages.
Meanwhile, Saebellus, a rebel general of the Sel’ven is waging war against Sevrigel and Jikun, a general from Darival is chosen to lead the kingdom’s army against him. In the midst of war and politics, an assassin is murdering council members, causing much havoc in the city.
Kings or Pawns is a high fantasy novel focusing on Sevrigel, a land filled with elves of different races and clans. However, unlike most high fantasy, the focus isn’t especially on magic used to fight and win wars. Instead, the elves rely on armour and weapons with only a few of them being capable of magic. Jikun, originating from Darvival, has the ability to control water, freezing it to form ice. His captain, Navon, on the other hand dabbles in necromancy although Jikun has to repeatedly forbid him from using that power which is punishable by death in Sevrigel.
Surprisingly, the king and the Council of Elves aren’t powerful in magic; in fact, there weren’t any mention of them using magic at all. Just like any typical kingdom, the council is made up of the representatives of the various races, each of them wealthy and in control of the economy of the Sevrigel namely the ports, the rivers and the merchants. Kings or Pawns is a story that tells of corruption and politics, both of which can be widely seen in the world today.
The story gets interesting as new characters with resemblance of the heroes of the legends of old turn up and gets involved with the king and the kingdom for reasons known only to them. The True Bloods and legends begin to weave themselves into the current day Sevrigel, causing the council to be wary and at the same time, Saebellus and his army is getting ever nearer despite Jikun’s effort to defeat them.
Kings or Pawns is a suitable title as it gave me an idea of what King Hairem’s struggles are and what position exactly is he positioned in in the presence of the council. Aside from politics, the book also explores the depth of loyalty and friendship and the importance of tradition to people of status as some of them easily twist traditions to work in their favour.
As the story progresses, more and more questions pop out: Who exactly are the True Bloods and why are they suddenly interested in the country they left so many centuries before? What will happen to Jikun and Navon? Although the book is definitely a high fantasy, there is little romance so I recommend this book to readers who love both politics and strategy with an eye for details which are numerous in the book. At the same time, the unique and eloquent names given to the races and the characters draws the attention of the reader to get to know more about them.
King or Pawns is the first book of a series. Naturally, I would hope that the next book focuses on Ryekarayn and the people there as well as the characters who managed to escape to that land.
I would love to thank J.J. Sherwood for sending me a copy of Kings or Pawns.