Publisher: Gallery / Saga Press
Release Date: June 23, 2020
In this brilliant debut fantasy, a story of secrets, rebellion, and murder are shattering the Hollows, where magic costs memory to use, and only the son of the kingdom’s despised traitor holds the truth.
Michael is branded a traitor as a child because of the murder of the king’s nine-year-old son, by his father David Kingman. Ten years later on Michael lives a hardscrabble life, with his sister Gwen, performing crimes with his friends against minor royals in a weak attempt at striking back at the world that rejects him and his family.
In a world where memory is the coin that pays for magic, Michael knows something is there in the hot white emptiness of his mind. So when the opportunity arrives to get folded back into court, via the most politically dangerous member of the kingdom’s royal council, Michael takes it, desperate to find a way back to his past. He discovers a royal family that is spiraling into a self-serving dictatorship as gun-wielding rebels clash against magically trained militia.
What the truth holds is a set of shocking revelations that will completely change the Hollows, if Michael and his friends and family can survive long enough to see it.
I’m almost at a loss for how to rate and review The Kingdom of Liars. On one hand, I enjoyed the characters and idea of the world. In contrast, I had a lot of issues with the world building and magic system.
The Kingdom of Liars follows the Kingman family. A family that has been devoted to the ruling family for generations. A Kingman’s job is to protect the ruling family at all costs while also acting as the checks and balances. When the story picks up, the Kingman family is in disgrace and labeled as traitors after David Kingman was found guilty of the murder of the prince. Michael Kingman and his siblings now live day to day trying to survive in a city who views them as guilty as well.
There is a lot of political intrigue from start to end as Michael has to navigate the high noble life in order to regain his family’s political standing while trying to clear his father’s name. I enjoyed this aspect of the story the most. Michael navigating this part of the world is what kept me reading. Part political thriller and mystery, Martell’s writing is tight and concise. The mystery deepens until the explosive reveal.
No fantasy is complete without a magic system. However, Martell’s magic system is poorly defined at best. Some characters are graced with different abilities, like expelling lightning or darkening a room, but these abilities come at a cost. The more these abilities are used, the more the person loses their memories. Martell has created a well balanced magic system, but failed to fully explain it. Or at least attempt to explain it.
There is a lot going on throughout The Kingdom of Liars. Martell weaves together multiple storylines that all tie in together at the end. Unfortunately, it’s not successful in its desired outcome. A lot of the storylines feel like a waste of time for most of the novel as their importance doesn’t become apparent until the end.
Overall, The Kingdom of Liars is a semi successful fantasy novel that bit off more than it can chew. I will be reading the sequel once it releases since the ending of The Kingdom of Liars sets up what should be an exciting sequel.
*** I received an ARC via Netgalley for an honest review.