Book Review: King’s Mark by Stephanie Herman

King's Mark
by Stephanie Herman

I found this book when wandering the new release section of Amazon. Many of the book reviews I do are for titles that have been out in the wilds for a while. I figured I'd switch it up a bit.

It reminded me just how frustrating it can be hunting for a new book to read on Amazon. I almost abandoned this book by chapter 4, as it bounced from character to character with nothing more linking them than birthmarks that resemble the markings of animals. The start was slow, relying on world building and cultural depth to hold the story aloft while the characters got to places that gave them the room and space to do things interesting. Some characters did less than others, reacting to the things happening to them rather than taking their fate in their own hands.

The Plot

I don't want to reveal any plot critical points, so I won't discuss the plot in too-much detail, but I will say this much: There is a lot more world building and cultural development than plot development, in my opinion. If you're looking for a book where the world takes the forefront, this is a book you'll likely enjoy. If you prefer a book where the plot and characters are as intriguing as the world they stand upon, you might walk away disappointed. I know I did. The world building is there, but I found the characters were either too much alike or too prone to shift based on the needs of the plot at any given point in time.

The Characters

Something that did bother me significantly about this novel is the character and place names. I love creativity in naming, and I love names that carry weight with them due to the writer's skill to make those names carry weight. Names in this book are extremely simplistic. Many of them are three or four letters long. This resulted in a feeling of similarity across all of the characters, which made it harder to keep track of who was who during the reading. There was a point in the book where I had to stop and go back several times trying to sort out who was who because of the sudden introduction of three or four characters with three or four letter long names.

The Pacing of the Story

I found the first half of the book to be extremely slow, focusing on the building of the world and introduction of characters, rather than digging into the main story. There is a decent story hidden in the background, here, but I don't feel that there was enough of it to warrant the extensive amount of exposition and building. In the second half of the book, the pace really picked up and the story focused less on the building than the execution of the plot that was set up.

Final Thoughts

All-in-all, this is not a story I'll be rereading anytime soon — if ever. I finished it, but only because I really do not like quitting a book. The second half did prove better than the first, but by the time I got there, I was jaded enough on the book that I was reading to find out what happened and to see if it got any better rather than to enjoy the book. It did get better, which is a good thing! How much better? Not enough for me to warrant ranking this book more than three stars on Amazon. I'm not sure I'd recommend this book for others to read unless I knew the person really enjoyed world building more than anything else. But, it wasn't bad either — it just wasn't my specific cup of tea.

I am glad I finished it, though. There were enough twists to make the ending entertaining.

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