cover image King of the Rising

King of the Rising

Kacen Callender. Orbit, $16.99 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-0-316-45494-0

The plodding second Caribbean-inspired historical fantasy in Callender’s Islands of Blood and Storm series (following Queen of the Conquered) turns the focus onto Loren Jannik, a former slave and the son of a slave owner. With all the Fjern colonizers of the island nation of Hans Lollik either dead or imprisoned, the indigenous islanders have seized control, but must immediately begin preparing for the inevitable arrival of more Fjerns coming to reclaim the land. With preparations for war underway, Loren contends with wavering trust among the revolutionaries; the unpredictable, power-hungry Sigourney Rose (the heroine of book one); and a possible traitor leaking the islanders’ plans to the Fjern. As the islanders are barraged with attacks from the Fjern, leaving them with dwindling resources, Loren is forced to consider who to trust and how his evolving magic could possibly help them win the war. As in the previous installment, the reader is somewhat trapped in the narrator’s mind, and the narrative momentum drags through long-winded expositional spiels and repetitive inner conflict. Even readers who enjoyed the first in the series will find this a slog. Agent: Beth Phelan, Gallt & Zacker. (Dec.)