ARC Review: The Kingdom Of Liars, or the strange importance of memory

Hello everyone! I hope you all are well, enjoying the Summer and reading good books! Today I can’t believe it, but I am back with another review, yay!

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley and to the editor.

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Title: The Kingdom of Liars
Series: The Legacy of the Mercenary King #1
Author: Nick Martell
Publication Date: June 23rd, 2020
Pages: 596

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 have mixed feeling toward this book, and I would start this review from the ending for once. If I have to “judge” it by my enjoyment alone, I would have given it 4 full stars, because I found it an immersive and captivating reading, and even if I am in an hard to please mood, and even if I am not in the right mood for chunky books right now, I enjoyed myself a lot while reading it. But if I have to “judge” it on the execution… well, I should give it three stars. So I ended with the middle ground, three stars and half, because there are some things that could have been done better, some holes here and there, and it is far from perfect in a lot of respects. But it is also a debut, so maybe the second book would address all these “problems”. And I am really looking forward to the sequel, because I need more of this!

One of the most interesting things in this book, and one with some problems, is the worldbuilding, and the magical system. We have an interesting world, but we are left with a lot of questions about it, the biggest one being “What the heck happened with the moon?”. Seriously, I need to know! We have a shattered moon on the sky, and sometimes pieces of it fall on Earth, but it wasn’t always so, once it was not shattered, and something happened to it. Something that it may, or may not, be tied to Michael’s family. And, to be honest, everything seems tied, one way or another to the Kingmans.
And the magical system is interesting and quite new, but we don’t learn enough about it. Magic has its cost, and in this case more often than not are memories, and once you abuse of it you’ll become a Forgotten, a person without memory who, obviously, border on insanity. But there are a lot of people who uses magic, and they are not going around like madmen. It is true that all, or so it seems, suffer of some memory loss and that they are taking precaution against it, like keeping diaries and tattoos for the very important things, but it is not that they all are without memory so… how all of this work, exactly?
I was hoping to learn more at some point, especially since Michael start his training with Fabrications (magic) at one point in the story, but there is so much happening, that we don’t see a lot of it, and so we are left wondering.

And there is really a lot happening. We have a world, or better a country, who is no more unite and rich as it was once. It is a time of unrest and troubles. The Royals are not as they were, without Kingmans behind them, to mediate and help them, we have rivalry between the nobles, we have unrest with the low classes, who as usual are the more damaged from the decisions taken by the ones socially above them, we have rebels who are trying to take the power in a violent way, and we have a mystery. Or more than one, but all of them started a long time ago and have ramifications in the present.
And at the center of it all there are the Kingmans, more as victims than anything else, but everything, in the end, is about them.
We have action, plots and twists, mysteries and we are left with a ton of questions and few answers. A tad too much of questions without answers. It is one thing to leave something for the sequels, because obviously we cannot get all the answers here, in the first book, but some of those questions deserved a resolution, in my opinion.

And finally we have the characters. Michael is our MC, and even if I liked him, he can be the most annoying boy ever. To be completely honest, I liked him but I cannot say why. He is one of those characters who feel responsible for everything, always, and this is not the worst. He made one big stupid decision after another. And I am not joking. He chooses always for the worst. And the stupidest thing possible every damn time. It is astounding, really.
And yet, I liked him. He wasn’t my favorite character, but I enjoyed him quite a lot. Even if I was constantly asking “Why?????” and even if there is one thing that buggered me to no end, it really drove me crazy: at one point in the book, in the first half of it, he discovered that some of his memories are missing. He met some characters that knew him, and had knew him since childhood, and he can’t remember them. At all. For him they are strangers. And he wonder why. But he doesn’t do a thing to try and discover who they are, or why he can’t remember them at all. Not a singe thing!!!! Sometimes he wonder, but there is always something more important that demand his attention. And if on one hand I can understand it, on the other it really doesn’t make any sense at all.
I mean, he could have asked his sister, or his brother at least! And instead… nothing. Nothing at all. It was just so maddening!

The other characters are less infuriating, but they all are interesting. I have to say that they are secondary and I wished to see more of them, and to see them more… well developed, in a sense, but they were great, and they all have their own personality. Gwen and Lyon, Michael’s siblings, are strong willed and they really care for Michael, even if it is not always an easy task.
Kai and The Girl In Red were fantastic! I loved them both, and their loyalty is moving. I would have loved to see more of them, and I really hope to meet them again, because they were just so good!
And then we have my favorite: Dark. We don’t know a lot about him, he is a mystery, but he has so much potential! And I think we would see more of him in the next books. And I can say that I am really looking forward to it, because it is the most complex character in this book, and I think he would have some surprises for us.
And lastly I have to mention Domet and the Corrupt Prince. Domet is an interesting character, but he is also the weakest point in all this, because he is just super powerful and, at the same time, with no power whatsoever. It is quite strange. I think that he is the worst character, if we are just speaking about how he is developed. As a person was interesting and intriguing, and I have liked him. And then the Corrupt Prince. I found quite nonplussed that all the people refer to the prince with that name. But this thing aside, he is really a villain well done. It reminded me a bit of Regal from Hobb’s books. One of the most despicable characters ever, one that I have hated (and I am hating even now) with a passion! So yeah, a character that I really despise, but developed really really well.

In this kingdom where all are obsessed by memory, by the loss of it, and by how they would be remembered by the history we have a story with a big mystery from the past, which can save or damn an entire Kingdom. And I appreciated a lot the story, and the way it is told, because the author show a great talent in its storytelling. And I know that my review seems not so enthusiastic, but… But I enjoyed it, I lose myself between these pages, and I am looking forward to the sequel!

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and half!

And what about you? Have you read this book? Or do you have it on your TBR?
Let me know!

Happy reading!
S.

 

14 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Kingdom Of Liars, or the strange importance of memory

  1. Ola G says:

    I hear such mixed opinions on this one! I’m glad you enjoyed it, and yet I feel the criticisms you mentioned would take a lot from my own enjoyment. I’ll keep this one in mind, though, and revisit it when the second installment becomes available 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susy's Cozy World says:

      In the end the review was more on the negative side of things, and usually all these things would have bothered me, too but… I don’t know why, and I have to admit this is quite perplexing, I enjoyed it all the same… I hope the second one would be better done!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery says:

    This sounds like the classic case of the debut novel full of potential but still plagued by some rough edges: if the story engaged you enough that you want to know more, it’s a good sign, and you can hope that the next one in line will be a more… polished work.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susy's Cozy World says:

      I remember your thoughts on this one, and to be honest they helped me because I lowered my expectations quite a lot. In the end the holes didn’t buggered me as much as I feared, but they were there and I really hope that they would be addressed in the next book!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: JULY WRAP-UP!

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