Kings or Pawns is the first novel in The Kings series by J.J. Sherwood. It is an epic fantasy novel that takes the reader to the same world created by Tolkien and spin it a different way. You have some of the same elements known for decades in the fantasy literature, most prominent of them all being the Elves … immortal, beautiful and wise. But that is where the similarities end.
I found the title of the book slightly ironic as I read through the story. Napoleon Bonaparte had said “We are either kings or pawns of men“, and I saw the same shade within the story. From the start we are introduced to the conflict brewing in the Elvish lands where paths of the elves separate, leading to differences that cause wars. It is such a war where we are introduced to an Elvish commander, his trusted captain and a young Elvish king facing off against an army they have been fighting against for a long, long time.
And this is where it gets ironic, because these Elves are not so different than humans. They are immortal, and they are beautiful, but there is a very significant human element to the way their society function. Political intrigues, whispers in the court, behavior which is raw (like humans) rather than one which is refined by centuries of thought and practice. If there were already humans in the story, the reader may have felt these were humans in the form of Elves … but that is not so and that is where the story stays strong.
The character development has been steady. The pace of the story varies; it speeds up during conflicts and slows down during conversations, personal reflections and experiences that adds to the depth of characters. The language has a modern tinge, not restricted to the shackled tone of the past but not so modern that the era begins to feel wrong or the authenticity of the characters is questioned.
Kings and Pawns is a good read for fans of epic fantasy fiction.Tags: epic fantasy novel, J.J. Sherwood, Kings or Pawns