Genre: Fantasy Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - first book in duology
Michael is branded a traitor as a child because of the murder of the king’s nine-year-old son, by his father David Kingman. Ten years later on Michael lives a hardscrabble life, with his sister Gwen, performing crimes with his friends against minor royals in a weak attempt at striking back at the world that rejects him and his family.
In a world where memory is the coin that pays for magic, Michael knows something is there in the hot white emptiness of his mind. So when the opportunity arrives to get folded back into court, via the most politically dangerous member of the kingdom’s royal council, Michael takes it, desperate to find a way back to his past. He discovers a royal family that is spiraling into a self-serving dictatorship as gun-wielding rebels clash against magically trained militia.
What the truth holds is a set of shocking revelations that will completely change the Hollows, if Michael and his friends and family can survive long enough to see it.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
THE KINGDOM OF LIARS is a chunky book (150k debut! Just scraping in under 600 pages!) but the pacing is so good that it doesn’t feel that large. There’s a lot happening, unrelated strands of Michael’s life weaving together to create a chaotic disaster of plates he has to juggle, throwing his friends and family into danger. It’s such an impressive feat to do that with a very disparate plot that doesn’t come together fully even by the end.
With longer books, the hook often has to be stronger to keep you engaged and determined to keep reading. For me, the hook was finding out the truth about Michael’s father – who really killed the Prince, why, and how did they frame him? Given the book had set it up such that only a clever, terribly shocking reveal would pay it all off, it was a little disappointing when it was revealed (though only partially). It came out all very late and rather haphazardly for me, feeling a little tacked on and not set up enough.
That aside, it is an intriguing plot. It’s not quite a political fantasy, because Michael is not engaging in the schemes weaving around him, but it’s on the edge – and it looked like the second book will see him engage(!)
The author’s “review” on GR (I love finding the author’s reviews, as they usually give more insight into the book. Not all authors do that, and I understand why, but I love it when they do) talks about the book’s impetuous being to explore what happens to the children of the “chosen ones”. In this case, Michael’s father isn’t a chosen one, but an infamous one – and with a family legacy of heroes to live up to. It’s an interesting exploration of the pressure of legacies and not being able to step away.
My back copy talks about it being a very innovative world, which I’m guessing is referring to the idea of the shattered moon that sometimes drops fragments onto the world and the magic system that steals memories as you use it. It’s fun and interesting, and I love magic that has a large cost, but it’s hard for me to call it innovative when I’ve given feedback to people’s (unpublished) stories containing those elements. I guess I’m just hesitant about calling anything unique because it’s been done somewhere before!
Will I be reading the sequel? YES (but my TBR will kill me if I don’t deal with it first!)
Read my reviews of other books by Nick Martell:
The Legacy of the Mercenary King: