Book Review: Kings of Paradise by Richard Nell

“I’ll be part of your book, Mother, but not like Egil or Haki or Rupa. I’ll be Omika, the giant. I’ll be the monster who frightens little girls. That’s what I am. I’ll butcher the whole world one by one with my bare hands, and when they’re all dead, the lawmakers and priestesses and all their servants, then I’ll go to the afterlife and find you, and I’ll make you their queen.”

Ruka is born disfigured and Norse (a god) is a genius who is only spared death because of his mother’s love. Born into the snow covered wasteland of Ascom, he lives outside of the city with his mother away from all human interaction. Now the church has declared him an outcast and he is filled with hatred and a hunger for vengeance from all those who have wronged him.

Kale is the fourth and youngest son of the King of Sri Kon who has no direction in life. Born with a silver spoon and a touch of naivete on how the world should be, he struggles to figure out his path in life. At 16, his father forces him to train with the marines and prove himself. He struggles to establish himself as a leader and gain favor in the eyes of his father and possibly win the love of his life as a bride.

Both on extreme sides of the earth, unaware of the existence of each other’s world, Kale and Ruka are set on a path of collision. Where one wants to burn the world down and the other wants to save it, only one can truly be king.

“Ruka stared at the corpse of the boy he’s killed, and his stomach growled.”

Kings of Paradise‘s very first sentence is the quote above. I love a good antihero. If you can do heinous things in a book and murder everybody in sight and still get me to root for you? I’m on board. Ruka is the best anti hero i’ve read in a long time. The book literally opens with Ruka eating the flesh of a boy he just killed (this is not a spoiler, this is literally the first page of the book). Everybody I’ve recommended this to, I’ve had to implore to continue past that scene because an amazing story is going to unfold. But I completely understand that grimdark fantasy books aren’t for everybody but Ruka is the type of character I say all the time that I want to read about. Nell does an amazing job of juxtapositioning Ruka’s current reality to his traumatizing childhood. Being so isolated and not knowing any human touch apart from your mum. His POV is one of the best i’ve ever read. Watching Ruka become who he becomes gives you such a deep sympathy for his character. You want him to succeed despite what his success means for the world.

“Love is the very worst reason for a prince to marry”

Kale is written as the complete opposite of Ruka. He’s kind, he’s close to his brothers, he’s in love with this childhood friend and his father is paranoid and ruthless beyond measure. His story is one of compassion and trying to figure out his place in the world as a 4th born prince who is of no great importance to the throne and who doesn’t have any particular talent that his father can take advantage of. Kale as a character was interesting but ultimately I always rooted for his father. I found Kale to be insanely naive and I found his father to always be right even though I think we’re supposed to think his father is hard. But I found the King of Sri Kon to be an amazing character whose ascendant to the throne I would love to read a whole book about.

When he tells Kale about how his family was murder and how he and his aunty were only spared by coincidence and how he ascended the throne at such a young age even though he was never even near the line of succession and then proceeded to murder and cripple all his enemies. I legit got chills reading it. Also, everyone knows I hate romance in my fantasy. So that’s another knock on Kale, he’s in love and his love makes him make very naive decisions. Don’t get me wrong, I was never bored reading his POV, he’s still a great character but I think everything pales in comparison to a great anti hero who isn’t stopping to fall in love.

“What…do I want?” Ruka put his hands to his awful face and closed his golden eyes, shuddering with what could have been a laugh, or a sob. “I want a world where love is not a crime, Priestess, a world where children are not doomed to misery because they are different. I want only laws with mercy, and justice, and wisdom…but I will settle for your pink insides in my palm, and your brains on a rock.”

So why not 5 stars? The last 20% of this book was extremely rushed. I kept wondering why the author kept feeding us all these details instead of showing us and taking us through the actual action. Nell takes his time and meticulously crafts this story and then ends up giving us a time jump in the last 20% of the book? I think if you’re going to write a sprawling fantasy series then you should take your time. A time skip in a fantasy book is extremely lazy. Hopefully the second book rectifies a lot of my complaints. Overall, I utterly, wholeheartedly recommend this one. Come find me and talk about it with me if you’ve read it or if you read it on my recommendation. Solid 4 stars.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s