An Expert Balancing Act – a review of All The King’s Traitors by Keylin Rivers

Being an indie author myself, it shocked me to realise that I hadn’t read a lot of books by other indie authors. I can count the number on one hand. Yikes. And so I set to read my fifth book by an indie author – one who I recently discovered is a fellow Authortuber!

And it’s a banger, you guys! What a book to review as my last one of 2021! (Happy New Years Eve, by the way).

Azanthea is ruled by a God-king, and in this novel we follow six people deemed his traitors. A young teen in recent possession of a Godstone, and a brother protecting him. An orphan fugitive seeking somewhere to be safe, and a soldier fighting between the safety of his wife and his daughter. An heir seeking to overthrow the God-King, and one forced to prove her loyalty to him to survive. These six seek not only the powers they hold, but that of the God-King. His political sway, his array of powers and what may ultimately defeat him. Each of these six may hold a key to defeat him.

Instantly, the magic system and worldbuilding hooked me in. Godstones are wielded by the first person to touch them, manipulating the elements around them. And they came about at the end of the first version of humanity. Firstly, this is one of my favourite kinds of fantasy, where magic is the primary function within the world. And Rivers creates such a unique take on the typical elemental-style casting. The rules surrounding the magic system and the world as a whole are perfectly written, without the need to reference any appendixes or look back and forth between pages. All of it is understandable and totally memorable.

Rivers is further an expert of her novel’s balancing act when it comes to her characters. Six characters with POVs are in this novel and each are explored expertly. In their arcs, in their relevances and in their depth she excels. Writing a large cast of POV characters, and in fact reading, intimidates me. There is too much to keep track of and too little time to understand these characters well. In contrast, this book was an ease to read, keep track of everyone and explore their minds. Each of their charms and motives were very easy to explore and there wasn’t a single character I wasn’t invested in.

Narrative was another aspect used very well. Tension and exploration was very well balanced, and in spite of the many characters everything was revealed with poise and at just the right time for the story to appear cohesive. Tense scenes bunched up together expertly. When characters’ paths converged, the perspectives were used so appropriately that it was uncanny. This book indeed feels perfectly written and I have no complaints whatsoever.

Actually I do have one; I wish book two was out already!

All the King’s Traitors gets a score of 5/5. Expect big things from this series.

Yours in writing


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