3 1/2 Stars
This is the second installment of the Kingfountain series, the sequel to The Queen’s Poisoner. To get the most out of this book, you will want to read the series in order or much of the plot will not make any sense and you will not get a full scope of the setting and the machinations in place.
It is now nine years later and Owen Kiskaddon has grown from a shy and nearly mute hostage into a strapping young knight, one of King Severn’s most trusted advisors. He has been living in the North, being trained by the Duke of Horwath and growing up along side his best friend and granddaughter of the Duke. Owen and Evie have deepened their friendship into something more. The future that Owen and Evie see for each other seems bound to be destroyed by the machinations of their King, a man who demands loyalty above all else.
A test of that loyalty comes in the most unexpected way. A challenger has appeared to try and take the crown from King Severn. A pretender who is claiming to be one of the King’s nephews, who were believed to have been killed if not by the King, then by his command. This threat is taken seriously by the King, are man who has lived under the shadow of these rumors for the entirety of his reign. King Severn charges Evie and Ow en with securing an alliance with their neighbors, the very country that has been harboring the man who claims to be one of King Severn’s “lost nephews”.
There is also the appearance of a new poisoner, trained by Mancini, who is now the head of the Espion, the spy network. She becomes a very pivotal character throughout this book and her loyalty is inspiring as is Owen’s struggle to be loyal to his King without betraying his own heart. There are many twists and turns and a lot of action and intrigue packed into this book. There is also more focus on the Fountain and the magic that comes from the Fountain. We get to see how not only Owen uses this magic, but how it grows and manifests itself and how others use it as well.
There are a lot of twists and turns in this book and it was nice to see Owen as an adult rather than an eight year old child, scared of his own shadow. He’s turned out to be a very strong young man. The conflict between his heart and the loyalty he feels toward his King is an amazing struggle and you really do feel for Owen as he struggles to find the right path. I didn’t always agree with the path that the characters did end up taking, but they were well thought out and well written.
I did get tired of the whole loyalty thing, it was the whole reason that I dropped half a star. I understand the strong ties that are formed and wanting to be loyal to your leaders and those you admire or even fear. But it’s harder to take when the person you are giving your loyalty to doesn’t deserve it. Time and again, King Severn has proved himself unworthy of the loyalty that Owen, Evie and others show to him. But time and again, they ignore their reservations and their own feelings to keep an increasingly unstable leader happy. At this point, it’s become blind loyalty and I don’t think that does any favors to a character as strong as Owen. We’ll see what happens in the next installment.
Again, the author is using historical context and figures to draw the world in which Owen lives. He has re-imagined what the world would have been like had King Richard III survived the Battle of Bosworth. The similarities are very clear for anyone who has ever looked into the history of King Richard III and the mystery of the Princes in the Tower. A fantasy novel with real historical context, pretty cool if you ask me.