Spirit of the King
After thirteen grueling years under the tutelage of an evil spirit named Kerrigor, main character Aria finally works up the courage to run—she throws off her weapons and darts through the open gates of Kerrigor’s compound. Although she’s immediately overwhelmed by an outside world she hasn’t laid eyes on since she was six, she eventually acclimates and embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery and redemption.
Spirit of the King delights in the simple pleasures of life—of nature, soft fabrics, the smells of savory foods, the sounds of music. Freed at last from the shackles of the murderous Kerrigor, Aria eagerly soaks up these experiences like an alien come to Earth, and it’s hard not to get swept up in her joy. You’ll wish you were there with her in the Corrinian marketplace, shopping for outfits and learning about maps. She’s adaptable, quick to make friends, eager to learn, and always willing to listen.
Refreshingly, the book eschews the typical “chosen one” cliché so common in books of this genre, and instead, Aria is targeted by forces good and evil simply because she’s a kind person with a good heart.
Readers who enjoy novels like Safe Haven or Rose Madder will notice some familiar story beats: a woman who escapes from an abusive situation finds comfort and safety elsewhere, but must prepare for a showdown with her past. The formula works well in Aria’s tale, but the faith-based plot proved to be something of a stumbling block for me.
Spiritual entities such as Kerrigor and Eli (the eponymous King) inhabit Aria’s world but are so loosely defined that it’s never clear what they are or what they’re capable of. Even murkier are the motivations of these entities; what stake they have in this world and their desires for its inhabitants are lost in vague assertions and half-formed allegories.
There are many nods to the Bible, which help to fill in some gaps. The framework for the whole story, in fact, reads like an homage to the book of Job. Kerrigor and Eli, stand-ins for Satan and God respectively, discuss whether Aria will take to Kerrigor’s teachings before he abducts her. But the context is missing. And without that, Eli and Kerrigor feel like typical magicians—not creators or gods worthy of reverence. Eli comes off as aloof and oddly flirtatious, even sensual, when he speaks to Aria.
Despite these gripes, I mostly had a good time with Spirit of the King. The book is generally well written, with a snappy pace that really moves things along. The large and varied cast of characters never stay in one place for more than a few pages, and each location is larger and more elaborate than the last. Readers who enjoy stories of redemption and don’t mind filling in a few gaps themselves are sure to find something to like here.
|Page Count||178 pages|
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|Category||Science Fiction & Fantasy|