Friday, February 26, 2010

Book Review: The King Commands

The King Commands
Tales of the Borderlands Book Two
by Meg Burden

Ellin Fisher has made the Northlands her home. When she first came to the Northlands she hated the cold, bleak land, but she has come to see the beauty in it, too. And since the death of her father and the events of the previous year, King Alaric and his four brothers are the closest thing to family that she has.

But although King Alaric has repealed most of the laws restricting the Southlanders, changing the laws doesn't change the way people feel, and Ellin continues to encounter prejudice and growing unrest against the Southlanders. Then a death - and a betrayal - force her to leave her adopted home and return to the Southlands. The situation there is even worse than when she left, as the Guardians crack down even more against people with powers like Ellin's. The situation seems hopeless as Ellin, not welcome in either of the lands she loves, seeks to find a way to heal and reconcile both of them.

The King Commands is a worthy successor to Northlander, as rich and compulsively readable as the first book. It's a well-crafted, character-driven novel with a well-paced, exciting plot as well. As with Northlander, The King Commands continues to surprise the reader with unexpected plot twists, some of which I saw coming, and others I didn't. Meg Burden excels at starting with what appears to be a standard fantasy element and taking it in new directions.

Ellin is a great character; she's likeable but flawed in the way that good characters should be flawed. She sometimes makes bad decisions, and, as in the first book, one of her biggest mistakes is in not confiding in those closest to her. If she had done that, it would have avoided some of the problems (and there wouldn't have been a story). The other characters are well-developed also, including young King Alaric and his four brothers. Each of the brothers has a distinctive and thoroughly developed personality, even the twins.

There is romance in this book, although at this stage it's mostly romance of the unrequited type, with a couple of different love triangles coming into play. This is not fairy-tale romance but developed in a way that recognizes the complexity of human emotions, particularly when it comes to love.

Some of the plot elements are left unresolved for the next book, although the book is not a cliffhanger and does come to a conclusion. There are also some new and intriguing elements introduced at the end, which give hints about where book 3 is likely to go. Although, knowing Meg Burden, I'm sure there will be some surprises in store as well.

The King Commands will be published on April 12, 2010.

I received a review copy of The King Commands from the publisher. The links above are Amazon Associate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.


Charlotte said...

I'm looking forward to this one lots! I'm glad it dosen't disappoint.

tanita✿davis said...

I was so thrilled to be able to read this, and can't wait for whatever else Meg Burden writes!

Unknown said...

Cool! Hope you enjoy it, Charlotte!

Tanita: I saw your blurb on the back of the book, and I was reminded of our discussions of Northlander during the 2007 Cybils. What fun!