RogerBW's Blog

A Kingdom Lost, Barbara Ann Wright 05 August 2021

2014 fantasy, third of a tetralogy. Princess Katya is with the royal family, trying to drum up support for an army to retake the capital and depose the usurper. Her lover Starbride is hiding in the capital, gathering information and building a resistance.

Last year I wrote "I assume volume three will have a similar sense of marking time." Well, I was right. But it does it well. Book two was a little better than book one, and this is substantially better than book two; these are real people at least, some of whom are even allowed to disagree with the protagonists without being Wrong.

We finally see the under-race Allusians in their native habitat, and their "useless" style of magic; yeah, it's a bit Star Wars Force and a bit magical natives, but the fact that both sides's visualisations of the thing work, and that they have some abilities in common and others not, suggests that once they start talking with each other properly there's going to be a revolution in magical theory quite as profound as the revolution in governance as a near-absolute monarchy is forced by circumstance to have a parliament and other modern trappings.

Yes, it's a bit middle-volume getting people into position for the actually exciting events of the final book, but the potential for amazing things to happen in that book is huge; there are all sorts of huge questions left open, and I hope Wright brings it all together in a satisfying way.

Also the villain has clearly thought about the implications of the magic available to him, and has all sorts of tricks involving a variety of means of rewriting people's minds to make them loyal to him. This can actually get pretty nasty at times; but he's a nasty person, and smart, so it makes sense.

There are still the problems of previous volumes, such as the system, of nobility feeling rather un-thought-out, but perhaps because the focus has shifted from court politics to army-raising and generally doing stuff, I didn't find them as obtrusive. Even the magic system is finally coming into its own.

(Though I still find it hard to take seriously a senior henchman called Darren. Presumably the US didn't have the wave of popularity of that name in the 1970s that the UK did.)

This book ends right in the middle of the action, so if you're the sort of person who cares about that, have volume 4 handy.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Previous in series: For Want of a Fiend | Series: Katya and Starbride

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