Seven Kings by John R. Fultz
In the drought-stricken Stormlands, the Twin Kings argue the destiny of their kingdom: one walks the path of knowledge, the other treads the road to war.
Beyond the haunted mountains King Vireon confronts a plague of demons bent on destroying his family.
With intrigue, sorcery, and war, Seven Kings continues the towering fantasy epic that began with Seven Princes.
We’re back to a world of giants, men, and ancient sorcerers in the sequel to the 2012 book Seven Princes. John Fultz has crafted an interesting world that hearkens to classic fantasy in its use of fantastical elements rather than the “grimdark” realism that is found in many of today’s hits. Old alliances are broken, protagonists change, and new heroes are born in the second of the Books of the Shaper Trilogy.
Seven Kings, much as Seven Princes, is a tightly compacted story that could honestly be read as a standalone without much lost. That’s not to say as a middle book Fultz doesn’t spend time harkening back to the first or foreshadowing for the third and final, just that Seven Kings is a solid book that can be regarded on its own merits instead of analyzed only for its ability to bridge the gap from beginning to end.
What surprised me the most about this book was the manner in which Fultz handled his characters following their great victory at the end of Seven Princes. In no short terms Fultz has taken each of his heroes and brought them down to their rock bottom, turning aside all expectations and drafting challenge after challenge for each hero. Eight years after the conclusion of book one must have been enough time for each hero to bask in their glory, because in Seven Kings that all comes crashing down. You may have looked in admiration at some of the heroes but now you’re forced to reassess your feelings as they handle these obstacles in shocking, and in some cases brutal, ways.
Although Fultz is smart in that he crafts for us a new hero, Tong the former slave, who joins an entire civilization of underground creatures known as the Sydathians that want nothing more than to join the world above. Tong’s journey is a welcome taste of the familiar in a story that takes established heroes and puts them through the wringer.
Fultz also takes a generous amount of time in fleshing out the ancient history of his world in this book through the machinations of Iardu the Shaper and other powerful sorcerers. While admittedly leaving me with more questions than answers it’s interesting to see the level of thought and detail that Fultz put into crafting this world and its history.
One thing that Seven Kings does spectacularly is set things up for book three, Seven Sorcerers. Roughly halfway through the book we are introduced to a new threat that’s coming from far away. Insurmountable odds are stacked against our heroes and it’s a going to be an action-packed thrill ride for sure. I’m eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the Books of the Shaper series and I know Fultz won’t let us down.
Seven Kings was released on January 15, 2013. Seven Sorcerers is due out December 3, 2013.