I couldn't wait to discover how Paul Kearney would bring The Macht trilogy to a close. Both The Ten Thousand and Corvus had set the stage for an unforgettable finale, and the author didn't disappoint! Kings of the Morning closes the show with a bang and opens the door for more sequels. A veritable master of military fantasy, Kearney's The Macht trilogy is one of the very best SFF series of the new millennium.
Here's the blurb:
For the first time in recorded history, the ferocious city-states of the Macht now acknowledge a single man as their overlord. Corvus, the strange and brilliant boy-general, is now High King, having united his people in a fearsome, bloody series of battles and sieges. He is not yet thirty years old. A generation ago, ten thousand of the Macht marched into the heart of the ancient Asurian Empire, and fought their way back out again, passing into legend. Corvus’s father was one of those who undertook that march, and his most trusted general, Rictus, was leader of those ten thousand. But he intends to do more. The preparations will take years, but when they are complete, Corvus will lead an invasion the like of which the world of Kuf has never seen. Under him, the Macht will undertake nothing less than the overthrow of the entire Asurian Empire.
Kings of Morning is the thrilling conclusion to Paul Kearney's Macht trilogy.
Once again, this novel is dark and gritty military fantasy at its best. And yet, even though Kings of the Morning is at times all about the stark realism of military campaigns, Paul Kearney delivers more than a few poignant and touching moments that demonstrate just how gifted an author he can be.
It's no secret that Kearney has always been known for his brevity. In the past, his books featured minimal worldbuilding that didn't intrude on the storytelling, and the narrative was never bogged down by frustrating info-dumps or long-winded elaborations. And yet, for the first time, I felt that Kings of the Morning would have worked even better had it been longer. Several storylines converge and are brought together, and though the book makes for an incredible reading experience, I feel that it would have benefited from a higher page count. True, Kearney was able to build on the events of both The Ten Thousand and Corvus, which allowed him to flesh out his world and its people to no small degree. But still, just a bit more depth would have made Kings of the Morning the fantasy novel of the year. As was the case with its predecessor, the narrative is written with tight focus, keeping the pace fluid and making Kings of the Morning impossible to put down.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Paul Kearney doesn't get the credit he deserves for his characterization. Once more, the man came up with a disparate yet amazing cast of characters for this one. Much like in Corvus, there is also a great balance between the various POV sections, with the novel focusing in turn on Rictus, the slave boy Kurun, the Great King Ashurnan, Lady Orsana, and Prince Kouros. Seeing events unfold through the eyes of such different protagonists imbues this book with a human touch that elevates this work far above what is the norm in military fantasy offerings.
I doubted that the author could outdo himself and top Corvus. And yet, he did just that! Kings of the Morning delivers on all fronts. As is usually Kearney's wont, the book features terrific pace, a grim and stark setting, superb characterization, and bloody and violent battles. Doubtless, Kings of the Morning definitely is Paul Kearney writing at the top of his game.
A brutal and uncompromising, yet surprisingly touching, tale of warfare and conquest written by what could well be the most underrated talent in genre. That's Kings of the Morning in a nutshell.
Paul Kearney has written one of the fantasy novels to read this year. Kings of the Morning is a sure candidate for the best fantasy book of 2012!
Along with C. S. Friedman's the Magister trilogy and R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing, Paul Kearney's The Macht trilogy can stand tall as one of the best speculative fiction series to have been published since the turn of the millennium. And like these aforementioned series, Kearney's latest creation remains inexplicably underrated and criminally unread. . .
An awesome conclusion to a superior fantasy series.