Book Review: Kings or Pawns (Steps of Power: The Kings, Book I) by J.J Sherwood

Kings or Pawns (Steps of Power #1; The Kings #1)

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Genre: Adult High Fantasy

My Rating : 5 stars

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

You know that wonderful feeling when you’ve found an amazing new series and you just know that you’re gonna spend a lot of time reading and thinking about it?

That’s what I’m feeling right now.

Kings or Pawns is the first book in an amazing high fantasy series by J.J Sherwood.  It is a wonderfully complex book with elements of war, corruption, betrayal, drama and action. This book was my first taste of high fantasy and I’m really glad I read it. It did take me a while to get into this book but when I did, I was hooked.

The book centres around King Hairem as he ascends the throne in Elvorium and attempts to deal with the corruption within the city and General Jikun who is tired and weary from continuous wars but still continues to fight.

The book is written in third person with multiple perspectives that were very well organised. The plot is very intriguing and extensive. It moves at a balanced pace but does drags out a bit at times. There are different plot lines that all come together very well such as a war with the enemy- Saeballus, an undefeatable beast and a corrupt council.

The book is intense but a little lighter at times. It does have some violence and a fair amount of fighting scenes. The romance plays just the right amount of part in the book.

A major part of the book consists of war planning, running of the kingdom, battles and strategies. Politics and corruption play a huge role. It was very well done and didn’t bore me at all even though I don’t usually read political books. All the conspiracies were chilling and very unpredictable. The title starts to make sense as you read more. There are some magical elements too that fit well. The book also focuses heavily on betrayal.

One of the best things about the book was the world building. It was excellently done and the world created by the author is vast, fascinating and very promising. The kingdom aura was created beautifully. It was something new and different for me. It felt addictive and I look forward to reading more books like this.

The book focuses on many great characters with a lot of character development. The two main characters- Hairem and Jikun are very different from each other.

Hairem seems naive and clueless in the beginning as he has to take over the throne. He is under a lot of stress but still determined. He is kind and good to his servants. I liked the fact that he wanted to marry a girl he loved and not just for the benefits she may bring. He goes through a lot of character development and eventually grows to be tough and strong and learns to exercise his authority.

I really liked Jikun. He is witty and sarcastic and a very strong and powerful character throughout. He is very frustrated and tired with the wars. He is fearless in his blasphemous ways and even charming at times. I really liked his friendship with Navon as it just added another quality to his character.

There are some powerful female characters in the book as well. My favorite was Alvena. She is funny and lively and I really liked reading from her perspective. The fact that she couldn’t speak was something new and different. I also liked Kaivervi, though we see her only for a short time. Ilsevel was a very interesting character who liked to take part in the city’s politics.

Sellemar was a very fascinating character. He was exceptionally clever and skilled. He was a little mysterious and I look forward to reading more about him.

The ending was absolutely brilliant and shocking. It left me with my eyes wide open and crushed my heart. There were many surprises and twists towards the end which were well paced and didn’t feel rushed at all. It was satisfactory but at the same time, left me wanting more.

The audiobook was excellently done. I really liked the narrator. His voice was powerful and completely matched with the tone of the book. He did the voices of the characters well. I especially liked the way he did Jikun.

The writing was fantastic. It seemed a little difficult at first but then I got the hang of it. Everything was explained and expressed very well. It wasn’t too difficult to follow the story as it sometimes is with multiple plot lines and huge world building. I loved how the language was. It had an archaic effect mixed with a little bit of modern dialogue.

Kings or Pawns is a truly gripping book. I loved everything about it- the  plot, the characters and the world. It kept my attention throughout and I’m really glad I read it. It is absolutely worth reading and I highly recommend it.

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