“The Immortal Crown” by Kieth Merrill

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

“The Immortal Crown” by Kieth MerrillThe Immortal Crown (Saga of Kings, #1) by Kieth Merrill
Series: Saga of Kings #1
Published: May 3rd 2016 by Shadow Mountain
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 544
Format: Hardcover, eARC
Source: the publisher
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This is the week where I finish all of the books that have been sitting on my Goodreads “Currently Reading” shelf forever.  I started reading The Immortal Crown by Kieth Merrill back in May, and despite really liking the plot, it’s taken me a while to finish it.  It’s a pretty hefty dose of epic fantasy, and well worth the read.

The plot of The Immortal Crown revolves around a prophecy.  Something something something fatherless child will find thirteen stones of light/power/magic that when reunited can grant the wearer immortality, but the exact words and meaning of the prophecy have been subject to the distortions of time and a multitude of interpretations.  In the novel, there are three different characters who fit the bill–Drakkor, a sympathetic villain, Ashar, a monk-in-training, and Qhuin, a talented slave.  Each of these characters has encountered at least one of the stones and has been moved by its power.  Each has a different vision of a better life, and is pitted against each other in the quest for the stones.  Meanwhile, a tyrannical king is losing his mind and will stop at nothing in the pursuit of power and immortality.

I enjoyed the acknowledgement that the prophecy had been twisted from its original meaning, and the ambiguity as to who (if anybody) really knows what’s going on.  History is at best an educated guess based on what’s survived from the past as seen through the lens of the present, and that’s even more true in a world when the lines between the mythical and the mundane start to blend.

I also enjoyed seeing a villain who isn’t evil for the sake of being evil, but rather is doing the best he can with the hand he’s been dealt.  In fact, there were moments in the book where I found myself rooting for Drakkor in spite of my best instincts.  After surviving a brutal initiation ritual from a cult of crazed warlocks, he amasses a band of followers, and despite his penchant for violence he’s a far more respectable leader than the king.

The Immortal Crown is written much in the style of A Song of Ice and Fire, with lots of point-of-view characters coming in and out of the spotlight.  My favorite character was Meesha, the king’s slightly disinherited granddaughter.  She’s a kickass tomboyish type who stays true to her values and can both beat up and outsmart her enemies, who often take her for granted.

Related to my ASOIAF comparison, my biggest complaint with The Immortal Crown was the ending.  I felt as if there wasn’t a satisfactory conclusion to any of the story arcs that had begun in the novel, but rather that after 500ish pages, it was time to move on to the next volume.  This is a common complaint that I have with epic fantasy though, and isn’t unique to this book or series.  There’s a big difference between writing one story that’s broken into book-sized chunks and writing a story that has multiple book-sized story arcs that when put together tell a larger one, and I tend to prefer the latter.

I’ve read a lot of epic fantasy over the years, and The Immortal Crown can certainly hold its own.  I look forward to seeing this series continue.

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