Review: Blood of Ten Kings
This is one of the books on our makeup list from last year that I just didn’t have the time to get to. Actually, it kind of took me by surprise. The most recent book in the series, THE LOST PRINCE (EBR Review) came out more than 5 years ago, and I guess the possibility of seeing this sequel had completely fallen off my radar. Still, I was really excited to finally see it. THE LOST PRINCE was an absolutely brilliant book, and I was so looking forward to seeing how it would all come together for the Guardians from Aandor.
BLOOD OF TEN KINGS (Amazon) is the third and final book in the trilogy that began with Edward Lazellari’s debut novel AWAKENINGS (EBR Review). I have to admit that I was expecting quite a bit from this novel, given the state of the story that the author had built thus far.
Daniel Hauer is now fourteen and had started to come to terms with the fact that he’s also Prince Danel of Aandor. Cal MacDonnel, his royal guard, and Seth Raincrest, his wizard protector, brought him from the alternate dimension where Aandor lies as a newborn babe, but lost him in transit along with their memories. A centaur, Lelani, came later for him, and now these guardians, several others from Aandor, and a few from this world as well, are trying their best to see Danel returned to Aandor and his royal family. They’re kind of in a bind though, what with the reason for them coming to this world in the first place, an invading army from the realm Farrenheil, has likely overcome Aandor and its peoples, and Daniel isn’t exactly a shining example of royalty yet. In fact, he’s content to do the same thing most teenagers his age do: mess around, play video games, eat, and daydream about girls.
This book was a significant departure from the previous two books in the series, and I think that it suffered because of it. The story jumps between the realm of Aandor and this world. The POV character list, as per Lazellari’s MO, is spread fairly wide. The characters we know are back (kind of — more on that later). Plus there are a couple new ones from Aandor. Chryslantha, Cal’s betrothed, is one of them. There are also a couple new bad guys in the mix. We find out early that time flows differently between Aandor and this world. The opening chapter is, in fact, the invasion of Aandor and the escape of the babe Danel and those that would be his protectors. The fourteen years that have passed since, have been but a few hours in Aandor, and those waiting there are anything but ready to see the babe they held mere hours ago already grown into a young man. However, Danel and his guardians are quickly thrust into the realm of Aandor and meet their enemies head on.
Okay, so the only way I can really start a critical discussion of this book is to say that it doesn’t feel like an extension of what has come before in the series in any way, shape, or form. I just don’t know how else to put it. The previous novels were well-written and descriptive with fully realized characters that made the story absolutely glow with their own brand of genius. Whereas this book… felt like it was written on fast-forward. The detail we get is cursory. We do get loads of info dump about Aandor, but it never feels important or like part of the story. Characterization is essentially non-existent, and thus nothing seems justified. Not their actions, not their decisions, not the changes that are evident in who they are because of what they are doing. The plot line is a forced mishmash of random occurrences that happen to the group as they make their way from where they start the story to where they end it, and despite the random nature of those happenings.. become absolutely crucial to the plot.
If I had come across this book in a bookstore and read it, without first noticing that it was the third in a series, I might very well have believed that it was a stand-alone book. It reads just like one. On top of that, it’s the longest bit of horribly cliched medieval fantasy that I’ve read in a good long time. None of what has happened in the previous books makes any impact upon the story told in BLOOD OF TEN KINGS. This book is nothing like what I expected to find, and I am supremely disappointed.
I kind of feel like I need to do something more here. I generally avoid doing things like this, because this isn’t my story to tell. It was Lazellari’s. Still, I’m going to make a suggestion for what this book should have been about.
Look, this is how the series shook out:
Blood of Ten Kings throws the baby out with the bathwater and shifts from fun urban fantasy to turgid medieval fantasy with little to no cause for applause.
First book — find the prince, save him from himself, realize who everyone is
Second book — Fight some bad guys that come through the portal, team wins the day, massive fallout in the real world
Given that layout, it seems to me that the next book SHOULD have been something along the lines of:
Third book — Surviving the fallout in the real world, plus another bigger round of bad guys from Aandor, all the while watching Prince Danel become the leader he’s meant to be. The leader that Aandor needs. Then, at the end, everyone from Aandor is able to return to their world with a King instead of a baby, and we wish them well in their journey.
Yeah. There’s not much point in going any further with this one. If anyone else has gotten this far in the series, but has yet to read BLOOD OF TEN KINGS, I’d suggest you just let it fall off your radar. I sure wish I had.
- Recommended Age: 18+
- Language: A decent amount and strongly it cometh from the mouths of many
- Violence: Relatively little detail but quite a bit of violence and gore
- Sex: Sexy times make their way to the foreground a few times, and this guy has written for Playboy magazine before. So there's that.
Series links: Guardians of Aandor
- # 1: Awakenings —EBR Review —Amazon
- # 2: The Lost Prince —EBR Review —Amazon
- # 3: Blood of Ten Kings —This Review —Amazon
I hate to admit it, but a good title is almost always enough to drag me into a book. On this occasion I’m happy I read your review! It doesn’t sound like a book right up my alley, but I thoroughly enjoyed your review and I’m excited to dive into the rest of the site and find my next good book.
Glad to have you on board, Lloyd! Thanks for the comments. It’s always nice to hear from our readers.
You might want to read more reviews of this series. I actually thought it was the best of the trilogy.
I actually thought it was the best of the trilogy. Writing was way more mature. Very hope punky.
Thanks for the comment, Algernon. I have to admit, I wasn’t familiar with the term “hopepunk” before you mentioned it. Read up a little on it. It’s interesting to see where people are going with their categorizations these days.
Not sure I understand the distinction they’re trying to make though. With CyberPunk being “lots of cool story-elements built around cyber tech” and SteamPunk being “lots of cool story-elements built around steam tech”, (ride that example-train as far as you want) is HopePunk “lots of story-elements that revolve around… hope”?
Doubt I’m catching the connection and/or application in this case. Is it HopePunk because (spoiler) the good guys win (/spoiler)? (Highlight that last bit to read it.) Because it just seems to me that hope should be part of every story. Who’d want to read stories that always ended up with the bad guys crushing the little people? Sounds a little too real-world to me. I suppose also that GrimDark and Horror would be at the opposite end of the spectrum… but don’t the sparks of hope and strength that you see in those stories part of what makes them worth reading? In which case, they’re kind of like HopePunk too.
Starting to go a little too deep into this topic for a comment, so I should probably stop. Maybe I’ll have to write up some thoughts in an editorial. I guess I just don’t think that stories should be defined by the fact that they contain hope. Trying to do so, in my mind, means there wasn’t anything else in the story that stood out.
Which is possibly a large part of the problem that I had with this book in the first place. Interesting concept indeed.