THE PEASANT KING by A.R.F.  Nathaniel

THE PEASANT KING

The War of Howls
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A debut novel stars a young royal hesitant to rule even as supernatural hordes close in on humanity.

On the world of Airys, the kingdom of Hatam has been leveled by the Wolf Legion. King Edmund is dead. Prince Eron Eaglesword has fled to Ludamia’s Keep with his mentor, Lucas, chief of the Winged Guardian Order. As the Lycans approach, Eron and his lords commit to wiping them out. But the Wolf King slaughters Lucas, and cowardly Eron surrenders. Two years later, Eron and Princess Luna Flameheart have been living in peasant Rogava, posing as Hans and Gytha, to escape the Ruling Council’s justice. Problematically, the kingdoms of Amondia and Litharia don’t acknowledge the Ruling Council and threaten war. Worse, the winged Vladirian race hopes to turn a fractured humanity into Blood Cattle. Not without guilt over his decision to capitulate, Eron drinks too much and suffers nightmares. When Theodore, a former Winged Guardian, and Lord Gregory Weaverheart, a rogue councilman, track down Eron, they hope to persuade him to return to the once-proud city of Asmara and reclaim the throne. Yet as Eron’s friend Sturage says, “One man can’t liberate a city full of Lycans.” But doing so would make him a deity among mortals, following in the footsteps of Ludamia the Savior himself. In this series opener, Nathaniel lays out a banquet of what fantasy fans will consider comfort food. There’s a race of elegant, otherworldly elves; a mythical sword (the Muric Atamina); and a cult of sorcerers called the Laughing Skull. Smooth prose capably transports readers to places like the Elven city of Elanora in lines such as “the plants had strange variations of blue and purple and their blossoms were shaped to resemble the constellations of the stars.” Luna and other characters, including young Richard from the Institute of Knowledge, harbor secrets that jolt the narrative and add philosophical weight (“We call Lycans and Vladirians monsters...but in reality, our true nature is far more malevolent”). Certain story elements go underexplored—like Luna’s lineage—though the next installment promises a new conflict.

This tale offers a fresh remix of familiar fantasy motifs.

Pub Date: Dec. 5th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-9987220-2-3
Page count: 361pp
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
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