I received Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau as part of the awesome swag in my Booklovercon2019 welcome bag, and it is one of the most original fantasy books I’ve read in a long time, the world created by the author is unique despite the presence of some commonly used tropes and obvious inspiration.
Kingdom of exiles is a High Fantasy novel set in the magical world created by the author, when I first started reading the book it reminded me of Amanda Bouchet’s Kingmaker Chronicles, a female protagonist intercepted by the male antihero but it didn’t exactly have the same fire. It took longer for me to get into this book.
Leena is a Beast Charmer exiled from her homeland. Leena’s character falls into the basic Loner trope, she’s sworn off love and has the single-minded goal of proving her innocence and returning home. She doesn’t make lasting connections and has been forced to do things she wouldn’t normally do all in the name of survival. Beast Charmers are, as the book description suggests like something out of J.K. Rowlings Fantastic Beast, they have the ability to charm and tame magical beast, the tamed beast then reside in a Beast Realm only accessible by a Beast Charmer.
Noc is the leader of the Cruor’s a guild of undead assassins, and they are not Vampires. They are raised from the dead and endowed with abilities that make them near perfect assassins. When Leena’s turns up in Cruor, dragging, a captive and bleeding Kost who is Noc’s second in command, demanding the contract be called off, and making her own deal, everyone is thrown for a loop. Secret’s and ulterior motives lead to a perilous journey in more ways than one for Leena, Noc and a few members of the guild.
There was significant back and forth between the protagonist Leena and The Anithero Noc, and in between Leena bonds with other members of the guild as well and a bit of a love triangle trope. The characterization and relationship building were great. But it took me a while to warm up to the book, the authors writing voice wasn’t as warm as I would’ve liked. But as the story progressed, I warmed up to it. The plot and arc progression were great; a few things were predictable but not annoyingly so. The story concluded with a great climax, that still left questions to be answered in the next book.