|Ooooo, gorgeous covers. (Do you like my purple rug?)|
King's Warrior by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt.
Rumors of war reach King Arnaud and Queen Zara's ears and they send their daughter Princess Kamarie and Kamarie's maid, Darby, in search of the former King's Warrior. Accompanying them is Oraeyn, a squire who would rather be anywhere else than babysitting the princess and her maid. They succeed in their mission and bring Brant and Yole—a lost boy—back to the capitol. The threat of invading Dark Warriors becomes very real as Kamarie, Darby, Oraeyn, Brant, and Yole travel the land of Aom-igh meeting new friends and having adventures.
One of my favorite plot devices is when there is a story within a story (such as the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and my other plot device is when the characters travel to many different places, having adventures the whole time (such as The Red Sea Sharks, a Tintin book). King's Warrior employs this latter plot device. We follow the characters through forests, mountains, farmland, and underground tunnels; we follow them at the palace, on the battlefield, near the sea, and through a desert. Everywhere they go they face new challenges. Jenelle Schmidt weaves their adventures together seamlessly, building to an exciting climax where everything is tied together.
The book does, perhaps, start a little slow. I remember having a hard time getting into it the first time I read it. However, after a few chapters, I got sucked into the world and the character's quest; by the end, I didn't want to leave the pages!
Princess Karamie- Although Karmarie enjoys riding horses and sword fighting, she is not your typical kick-butt princess who feigns masculinity and doesn't need anybody's help with anything. Kamarie is very well-written. There is a nice balance between femininity and toughness. She grows a tremendous amount over the book, and it's a fun transformation to watch!
Oraeyn- Oraeyn is my favorite character. He is a squire training to be a knight, and he is the only one who can be spared to travel with Kamarie and Darby to find the King's Warrior. At first, he and Kamarie clash, but they eventually grow to be friends. Like Kamarie, Oraeyn grows a lot over the book.
Darby- Darby is Kamarie's maid. I didn't like her very much the first time I read King's Warrior, and I'm not completely sure why. There is a plot twist surrounding her that really surprised me and, after the twist, she is quite different. Her character seemed to just be there, and not have a set purpose (besides butting heads with Brant) or personality (besides her stubbornness; whereas her sisters each had a distinct facet to their personalities—Calyssia was the Keeper, Leila loved animals, Zara was queen and an archer. What is a female archer called?). I liked her much better the second time I read the book.
Brant- The mysterious "King's Warrior." Brant is a likable character from the beginning. He is strong and noble and tragic. He is kind of like Aragorn in that he's secretive about himself, but very knowledgeable about traveling, camping, tracking, and fighting.
Yole- Yole is a boy that Kamarie, Oraeyn, and Darby find wandering in the mountains before they reach Brant's house. They take him under their wing (no irony intended) and he travels along with them. Poor Yole has never fit in anywhere and doesn't know why. Finally, he finds friends in Kamarie and company. They teach him squiring skills along the road. Yole is a very likable character. I can't wait to find out what happens to him in the Book #3!
There are many, many supporting cast in addition to the five main characters. Most interesting, perhaps, is Kiernan Kane, the wandering minstrel, and his mule, Silver (I keep waiting for him to say "Hi ho, Silver, away!"). Also, the host of magical creatures who have disappeared below ground. And who can forget about the looming Dark Warriors, sailing from their unknown lands to attack Aom-igh?
Jenelle Schmidt has created a wonderful fantasy world! It feels much deeper than what is portrayed on the page, as most great fantasy books are wont to do. Each race of beings has their own culture and their own characteristics. It's cool to see how each are expressed in the book.
Also, Aom-igh has a thought-out history, which I appreciated. I loved the references to former kings of the realm.
My biggest complaint about King's Warrior is the recurring comma/semicolon problem. Haha, I know, huge complaint. Often, there is a comma where a semicolon or a period should be. Other than that, however, the book's grammar and word usage were wonderful! Places and people were described very well. I was really impressed with how Jenelle Schmidt was able to portray what her character's were feeling and going through internally, as they grew and developed over the story.
Would I recommend this book?
Absolutely, yes! If you enjoy fantasy books or adventure books, pick this one up! It is definitely worth it.
The story of Brant. How he grows up and how he ends up in Aom-igh.
The first part of the book felt like a bit like a Downton Abbey episode—skipping from important scene to important scene, years lapsing in between. Of course, Jenelle Schmidt does a much better job because she does not skip important discussions and she tells us what goes on in the interim. Even so, Second Son felt a little disjointed because of the time jumps, but I think any time you skip a significant amount of time in a story it will feel disjointed. It settled down halfway through the book.
Like King's Warrior, this story follows its characters through many, many adventures in many, many different places. As I said, I love this type of storytelling! I wished we could have more time in each area in Second Son, to get to know different people and cultures more (especially when Brant was training under Sheyardin).
Brant- This story explains much of the mystery about Brant. You don't learn a lot about him in King's Warrior, but in Second Son, you get to see him grow up. It was interesting to see how each experience he went through changed him into the Brant we meet in King's Warrior. Jenelle Schmidt did a great job with his character development.
Ky- Brant's brother. Even more interesting that Brant's development was Ky's. It was fascinating watching him make decisions that I knew would eventually destroy him.
Many other characters filter in and out of the pages such as the Rambler woman Brant become friends with, and the thief whom he also meets in the Rambler's camp (he's one of my favorites). There is also his mentor Sheyardin, who I felt could have used some more page-time so I could get to know him and feel for him more. And then, of course, there is Arnaud. I loved seeing his and Brant's friendship grow over the years! And who is that mysterious minstrel names Kiernan Kane, with the mule named Silver?
The world building for Brant's home country is very well done. Their culture and traditions are very different from any of the other cultures I encountered in this series. When Brant arrives in Aom-igh he faces a bit of culture shock, and must learn to adapt to something different than he's used to, which is great (especially when asks Arnaud a dumb question and Arnaud looks at him like he's crazy. :P)
Brant and Sheyardin did quite a bit of island-hopping while Sheyardin mentored him. That got a little confusing... Without a map, it was hard to tell where they were and how far from home and which island did what. They all blurred together in my mind. The islands where Brant spent significant time were better, but not as fully portrayed as his homeland or Aom-igh (which was probably good, otherwise the book would have been 1000 pages long, instead of 400+!)
Again, there was the comma/semicolon thing, but that's not a huge deal. Also, for some reason, my copy didn't have page numbers. That wasn't a huge deal either; I had fun writing in my own (it felt kind of sacrilegious, writing in a book :P)
Sometimes the descriptions seemed a little rushed due to the time-lapse parts, but otherwise were really great!
Would I recommend this book?
If you read King's Warrior, this book is a must! You find out many important things about Brant and the world outside of Aom-igh (mostly, that it's much bigger than anyone suspected!)
If you are jumping into this series for the first time, I would read King's Warrior before reading Second Son, even though Second Son happens before King's Warrior.
You can pick up both books (in paperback or for Kindle) on Amazon.
Live long and prosper.