Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Bastard King (Scepter of Mercy, Book 1) by Dan Chernenko

The Bastard King (Scepter of Mercy, Book 1) by Dan Chernenko is the first book in a fantasy trilogy. Chernenko is better known as Harry Turtledove. Lanius the only male heir of the king is considered to be illegitimate by some because he is of the king's seventh wife. Their only allowed six. He is more interested in history and animals then warfare and diplomacy. Grus son of a peasant works his way up the Navy eventually to challenge for the throne. He makes the choice to act as a joint king instead of just killing Lanius. There are various threats to the kingdom particularly the the neighboring territory controlled by a god.

I have a few problems with this book. First of all the characters aren't terribly sympathetic. Lanius tends to be a victim of the events and rarely tries to take control.. Grus is frequently more reasonable however he's shocked just shocked that no one wants to have an arranged marriage to his serial killer in training child. I'm not sure if it's a world building problem or a narrative problem but, I assume much of what Grus is doing should be radical there doesn't seem to be any pushback from the elites. Chernenko also tends to repeat information. We are told many times that Lanius has a bastard of his own.

All that being said this is an interesting setup. I'm willing to try the second book. It sounds like this may turn into a quest storyline. I don't have much patience so the second book will have to be pretty good.

Mildly recommended hoping it gets better.

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