Seven Kings: Books of the Shaper: Volume 2 by John R Fultz
|Seven Kings: Books of the Shaper: Volume 2 by John R Fultz|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Tarantino and Tolkien have a literary love child and his name is John R Fultz. A multi-layered world, beautiful description, break-neck action and appropriate brutality; it's wonderful stuff and immensely better than Book 1.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 496||Date: January 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
Runaway slave Tong suicidally avenges his lost love but death seems to elude him. Meanwhile King Vireon is happily married to the beautiful shape-shifting sorceress Alua, although his sister has problems with her husband, King D'zan. A courtesan is carrying his baby; odder still when you realise he's impotent. The Twin Kings of Uruz, scholarly Lyrilan and war-hungry Tyro, can't agree on how to rule so Tyro's wife Talondra puts a real spanner in the works to force a decision. However bad their lives currently are, evil is spreading through their world like a dark shadow and, to make things worse still, Ianthe the Claw and Gammir the Reborn aren't as dead as everyone supposes them to be. (You'd think the clue would be in Gammir's name wouldn't you?)
This is the second of John R Fultz's Books of the Shaper series and is also everything that I wanted the first one to be and much more. It's tighter, faster, capitalises more on the author's beautifully lyrical vignettes which link thrilling action, some wonderful monsters, a vampire and smatterings of the red stuff. (This is neither for minor nor squeamish.)
Talking of it being in a series, Seven Kings' does work as a stand-alone novel but the fact that we Shaper followers are only given sufficient recap to memory-jog, means you need to have read Princes in order to acquire all the nuance and history.
Although leaning more towards a more gory Ian Irvine stylistically, John R joins Michael J Sullivan in the 'no character's safe' school of writing, paying dividends. As there aren’t any guaranteed safety nets for anyone, the twists and crescendos are sharp and nerve wracking. Not all the characters seem well defined as we read it but that doesn't matter as the action ensures that our eyes are super glued to the words. Also by the end I could recite the who, where and what without notes so everyone is defined enough for us to engage and the geographical hopping is completely comprehendible as we jump from group to group with each chapter. Indeed, this is the antithesis of Seven Princes, which I complained consists of a lot of people marching in different directions confusingly. What's created such a change between novels? Perhaps the new SF/fantasy editor starting at Orbit in late 2011 may have had something to do with it. However, the greatest editors can't work magic unless the author's talent is there and John R Fultz is very talented.
Fultz creates filmic mind-pictures with few words, contrasting scenes of beauty, devastation and spectacular battles. He can extract strong emotions with only a few words, a cross-pollination from his graphic novel talents. (Yes, that does mean that I cried over a couple of the deaths.)
Iardu the Shaper is back but not as jovial and wise-cracking, and rightly so. It's a graver world and his sleeves are rolled up. As a meddler and manipulator of worlds, Iardu could've been a get out of jail card for the author, but he's refused to take the easy option. (Hurrah!) Iardu just drifts in and out, offering the odd bit of advice or prophesy and, even towards the climax when he's more 'hands on', you're never sure if he's going to be successful as he doesn't seem to have a 100% record.
So when do we do it all again? The next Shaper novel (Seven Sorcerers) comes to us in January 2014 and, speaking personally, I'm more than ready. In fact, in the words of the God-King Zyung, Let it begin! for I too am the impatient sort.
If you've enjoyed this and have read Seven Princes and have enjoyed this, try Vengeance: The Tainted Realm: Book 1 by Ian Irvine.
You can read more book reviews or buy Seven Kings: Books of the Shaper: Volume 2 by John R Fultz at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Seven Kings: Books of the Shaper: Volume 2 by John R Fultz at Amazon.com.
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