Thousands dream of it; still more die for it. Yet, how many can truly bear it? After centuries of bitter conflict the realm of Esmoria is at last united under the banner of a single king. On the surface the realm appears to be enjoying its first taste of peace, but lingering resentment and the untimely death of the new ruler threaten to return Esmoria to political chaos. Meanwhile, in the farthest reaches of the frozen north, a dethroned monarch’s plot for revenge awakens a long-forgotten evil. As darkness and treachery descend upon the realm, a young escapee from a forced labor camp, a disenfranchised soldier, and an epileptic engraver’s apprentice find themselves at the heart of the troubles.
-A quick note before the review. I’m going to be putting up a few reviews over the next week or so of all the SPFBO novels that have made it to the final round (all the books that made it can be found here) that I haven’t covered already starting with The Weight of a Crown and continuing from there, rather than putting all of these mini-reviews up in a group review as planned.
Epic fantasies can be tricky reads as there’s usually a lot of things to get right. The world building has to be balanced with the development of plot, pace and characters, and if one isn’t quite as effective as the other then everything starts to crumble. The Weight of a Crown however, is one that manages to keep the reader entertained and hooked for the most part, largely allowing for an interesting read even if it is not without problems of its own. It follows, like many epics, the Game of Thrones approach of tackling several wide storylines with different characters, with four in particular being the ones that we share much of our point of view with throughout the book.
We meet people like Nicolas who is an apprentice to an engraver, where he discovers that he has control of a new power. Nicolas in turn is joined by a slave named Jeina, and a Curahshar soldier named Xasho, one of the few survivors following an ambush by a rival force. There’s also Bokrham, the Lord Commander who has come through the ranks to become Regent following the disappearance of Prince Tobin. It can be difficult to juggle the narrative especially when for the most part their storylines are kept separate and will possibly only interlink in later books, but here it’s pulled off effectively enough to give the reader a clear sense of development and progression, as well as laying plenty of groundwork for the future.
However at the same time that also presents a problem with The Weight of a Crown, and readers wanting an immediate resolution may be disappointed no matter how well written the book may well be, and it’s certainly something that’s written well. However standalone epic fantasies are a rarity in fiction nowadays so as long as you go in with that expectation in mind then the problem shouldn’t be too offputting. But one thing that I did notice was the vast amount of cliffhangers featured here, not just one, so it will certainly be interesting to see how their respective differences are dealt with.
Aside from the exposition heavy scenes, that happen early on in The Weight of a Crown as well as the slow pace it tends to move at, Tavis Kaeden’s novel is a decent read and the characters are well created with several layers of intrigue between them that keep them fresh and exciting. Time will tell whether the sequel will pay off all these loose ends however, and it’s something that I probably will check out at some point. Regardless of that though it’s easy to see why this was the chosen novel from Lynn’s Books. There’s a lot to like about it.