There’s much to admire and really enjoy in fantasy adventure story, The Black King by Sam Burns and W.E. Fawkes . A good royal family slaughtered, a tiny prince saved and secreted away by a family warrior who raises him.
A dying poor boy given a chance to live if he will find a king and place him back onto a stolen throne.
Be still my heart. Those are some fabulous narrative bones here. And the authors create some equally compelling characters and elements to further flesh out their impact and potential.
It starts with the fact that unlike most other books, the knight saving the child prince from his family’s slaughter isn’t a man, but an extremely strong and capable woman. I loved this aspect of the story. Greer is a formidable figure, a fighter, a protector, a goat herder. But like others I related to, I felt that she and others never fully realized their future, being sort of shunted away at the end by a sentence or two.
Leon, the hidden prince who hears the bells of royalty in his head, has the ability to grow and grab at the reader’s heart but he continues to make the same mistakes throughout the book. Any growth is left right up to the very end when there’s no way else to go. That’s a shame because I’d have preferred a slower change in his personality to a forced transition.
Quentin is really the hero here. The sickly boy destined to die until a witch sets him upon a quest. He’s a wonderful example of this type of fantasy archetype. Perseverance is his name, so handsome he shines (thank you, witchcraft), humble of nature and endearing. Oddly, I kept thinking he’d end up in a different role. However, he’s in a great position when he gets his HEA. Hard not to immediately connect and invest in his life struggles.
Along the way, Leon, Quentin, Queer, will meet up with others, including an important character, Errol. He comes into the book, grabs at our hearts, and then goes away until a sentence at the end. It’s a choice made with the knight Greer too.
While she starts out as a powerful part of the narrative, as the drama continues, the rush towards the conclusion is so swift that many of the characters are left behind in the pages. And what should be a climatic battle, turns into a shout, a rout, then the finale.
I couldn’t figure out why a book that had such a strong plot outline and potentially great characters didn’t have the book that was up to polishing it all off in a fully realized way. Where all the characters showed realistic growth, the denouement at the end was satisfying, and all the people we kept company with along the journey were there at the end to celebrate the emotional finale of a great quest.
I believe one reason for the rushed, incomplete nature of this story rests at the end of the description. This wasn’t written as a book but rather as a serialized story for the authors Patreon group. That makes sense. The repetitive pattern in Leon’s behavior, the lack of build up and foundation work for the Kingdom, and lack of depth and development in the witch’s storyline. Expectations are high for a book to see that depth of plotting and multidimensional characters.
Serialized stories? Maybe not so much because of a different style and format.
Either way, it shows here.
Imo, if you’re going to release a serialized story as a book, the authors might want to consider rewriting before publishing it first. Especially one that’s has such great bones!
Prince Revelin was slaughtered beside his family. Now, his cousin King Verlyn holds the throne, and peace reigns in Nenyth.
That is the story peasants tell, huddling before their hearths while the kingdom falls into ruin, afraid to speak the truth even in whispers. There is no peace, only the brutality of the beasts and bandits that roam the countryside while the usurper king sits his throne, blind to our suffering. I’ve felt it every second of my life, held back by illness that’s gripped me since childhood. But a wish and a promise brings me the health and strength I need to set things right—find the rightful king and restore Nenyth.
If I fail, my promise will be broken, my life lost alongside it, but word of a rogue knight reaches our hamlet—a warrior skilled enough to teach me the ways of the blade. In my father’s footsteps, I’ll become a knight and restore justice.
My name is Quentin, and if it takes all that I have and all I’ve ever hoped for, I will save my kingdom, my people, and my prince.
The Black King is an MM epic fantasy serial novel. Join Quentin and our knight errant as they fight back the dark. Full of violence, hope, and more than a little swordplay.
The Black King was originally published on Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes’s Patreon page as our 2022 Epic Fantasy Romance serial.