WARNING: Even the synopsis for this book contains spoilers for the first three books in the King Rolen’s Kin series. If you haven’t read those and want to remain unspoiled, don’t continue reading. Otherwise, please continue.
When Dovecote estate fell, Garzik, younger son of Lord Dovecote, was captured and sent back to Merofynia as a prize of war. Feeling responsible for the fall of his father’s estate – and therefore, ultimately, the fall of the Kingdom of Rolencia – Garzik believes he must set things right before he can return home.
He decides to turn his misfortune into opportunity, and spy for the rightful king, Byren. With fortune on his side, Garzik hopes to learn something that could change the path of the war, then escape, return home, find Byren and redeem himself. For Garzik is, and always will be, the king’s man.
When I found out there was an e-novella appearing in the King Rolen’s Kin universe I cheered. I fell in love with the world earlier this year and the wait for the final book until late 2013 is a long one, so to get an unexpected return there – even if only a short one – was delightful. When I opened The King’s Man in iBooks and it turned out to be about Garzik I squee-ed. I was sad when Orrade’s scrubby little brother was seemingly killed, so to find out he’d be back was a lovely surprise.
Garzik was one of my favourite secondary characters in The King’s Bastard. He carries off the lead part in this narrative quite well, though he had the annoying habit of constantly comparing himself to his older brother and the King’s sons and idolising them out of all proportion. This point felt a little belaboured at times, but given that learning to trust himself and accepting that he didn’t fail Byren, but that the fates conspired against him succeeding, was a large part of the lessons Garzik needed to learn in this story, I do see why. In addition, he still a teen and as with most teens he thinks that the world revolves about him; not in the sense that he is selfish, but that he thinks his actions or inactions have a far larger impact than they do: I failed to light the fire, so the kingdom fell. As part of growing up he has to learn that he is just a cog in the machine: important but not essential.
We get a closer look at the Merofynians, both as villains and as friends, and at the Utlanders and their homeland. I very much enjoyed the closer look at the Utlander culture; the Utlanders won me over and I kept hoping Garzik would find a way to stay with them and be a King’s Man as well. In fact I still hope that we’ll see him do this in Kingbreaker, the fourth King Rolen’s Kin book. I found the structure of Utlander society fascinating, with its three pillars of the women, the beardless and the raiding warriors. Hopefully we’ll see more of this society as well.
Don’t read The King’s Man if you haven’t read the first three King Rolen’s Kin books, but if like me, you loved those books and are waiting for the last one, do pick this up. It’s not just a return to a wonderful story; it also gives a deeper understanding of the world. We get to go places we haven’t been before and learn things we’ve had no way of knowing until now. Unfortunately, late 2013 now seems farther away than ever, as I can’t wait to read Kingbreaker!
This book was provided for review by the author.