This epic novel leans towards a gritty style of Fantasy. We are exposed to the difficulties, small and large, that plagued the lower classes during the real Middle Ages: back-breaking labour, inequity and crude behaviour of all sorts. And war, with all its horror. There is a good swath of battle action in the story, well-told in chilling detail. This is no children’s tale; swords go into bodies and blood gushes out.
This social and physical setting is described for us in careful detail, placing us and our imaginations firmly in the era. The themes that are worked out have too much application to our modern world to dismiss them lightly.
Unfortunately, I must mention the problems with the writing. Misused words (left their horses on a leash), awkward expressions and convoluted sentence structure generally need tidying up.
“Perhaps, I won’t refuse your company,” after weighing all the pros and cons, Yost said.
This would be much clearer if it were shortened to:
Yost weighed the pros and cons. “Perhaps I won’t refuse your company.”
Here we have either a translation or an author whose first language isn’t English, which would not be worth mentioning except that the problem is severe enough in places to distract the reader from the flow of the story. Mr. Vlasovs is a storyteller with great potential in need of an editor.
As expected from epic tales, the story has themes of friendship and loyalty, with an interesting foray into whether loyalty should extend to committing acts with evil consequences.
There is a certain amount of imagery, with storms and crows used as omens, and it would have been an addition to the tale if there were more.
The ending wraps up many of the story strands, leaving a few key conflicts for the next instalment.
“Kingdom in Flames” is a fast-paced, action-filled epic with sympathetic characters. It just needs some polishing.
(4 / 5)
This review was originally published in Reedsy Discovery.