Kingmakers Series – Book Review
Arrows of Change and Arrows of Promise are two books in the Kingmakers series by Honor Raconteur. I don’t know if the author has finished writing in this world or whether more books will be coming out. They are both ebooks and I actually spent money on them. Well, I spent money on the first book and got the second for free. However, I did pay more than $5 for the first book – and for me and a digital book that is not inexpensive.
Was it worth it? Well, I am feeling more forgiving now that I have finished the two books. But I would not describe the pair as good. They are not bad either. They are mostly boring. There is nothing offensively bad about the books. The idea is interesting enough, but the execution leaves much to be desired.
The greatest crime committed by the books is that they are flat and effectively lifeless. There is no significant character development. The good characters are all nice, hard-working, honest, upstanding, and righteous. The villains are vague, described as power hungry, violent, mad but mostly they are all in the background like some distant shadowy threat. They are just enough of a threat to unite the heroes and provide mooks for the justified killing.
While I find the concept of a dukedom pulling away from the larger kingdom to become independent an interesting topic, there was no depth to this story. The dukedom was perfectly good, with no flaws. The new King is organizing a modern government with elected positions, with laws made with input from the people and levels of bureaucracy to ensure there can be no tyrannical king. This also arranged haphazardly and seems like the characters are preaching modern morals. It is all presented as obviously good and the best option. But some of the ideas could use some serious scrutiny. Sure it is great that Rape is being treated seriously – but there is no consideration for why people do these horrendous crimes. However, if you ever felt that the death penalty was the best option for murder and rape then you will support this little utopia society quite nicely.
If however you are looking for some interesting conflict for discussion, don’t read this book. Everything is solved in the best case scenario. They magically work out for the characters. Conflicts are often minor or so big to be un-relatable. Even the premise for the separation of the dukedom from the larger kingdom is presented as something only good people would do and to argue otherwise would show you as evil. As such, there is no interest there, no development.
Further the style of writing, which flips between a father and daughter, is dry. It could be interesting. It could be new and fresh to have your primary leads as a father-daughter pair. But they don’t do anything with this. They characters are nearly the same to be almost interchangeable. They have no personal growth (at least not worth mentioning) and they tend to just tell the reader things. While both are expert archers, they are also good to grasp other tasks (a typical trait of primary protagonists). They are flat, lifeless creatures whose greatest trait is the manner of their speech which is clearly different from the rest of the main characters.
Oh, and there are wizards in this world. Wizards who become partners for this duo of most amazing archers (their skills are those of TV actors in amazingness). Wizards who can do anything with magic – literally anything. It is a terrible magic system as there are not clear constraints on the magic. If you can do it with your hands, wizards can do it faster and with magic. It makes them tired but that is about it. It is a lackluster system.
Could it have been interesting? Absolutely! I think looking at why one group of people would break away from the larger whole would be an interesting topic. Sure they are the underdogs, but you could also look at how that fracture would affect the larger kingdom. You could also look at the rebels as arrogant or greedy from one perspective, and determined and resilient from another perspective. It could make for an interesting story. But you need to look at both the good and the bad.
The problem that the main characters are stupid and didn’t have a plan for succession shows them as idiotic and creates some strange artificial utopian council where everyone works together to create some mystically appealing rules the populace will adore. It was unrealistic. If you want to look at the work going into building a new kingdom, then set it up as a political story and do justice to the problems involved.
If you want to focus on the amazing skills of your archers, then you might want to tell a different story altogether as this had little opportunity to showcase their skills. That said, it is difficult to explain how amazing an archer is from their perspective and the fight scenes were skimmed over rather than read.
Still, the Kingmakers books weren’t offensive in any regard. They were just lackluster = three stars out of 5 (if I had to put a number on it).