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Book Review: Kings of Paradise

Table of Contents

“A deformed genius plots vengeance while struggling to survive. A wastrel prince comes of age, finding a power he never imagined. Two worlds are destined to collide.

Only one can be king.

Ruka, called a demon at birth, is a genius. Born malformed and ugly into the snow-covered wasteland of the Ascom, he was spared from death by his mother’s love. Now he is an outcast, consumed with hate for those who’ve wronged him. But to take his vengeance, he must first survive. Across a vast sea in the white-sand island paradise of Sri Kon, Kale is fourth and youngest son of the Sorcerer King. And at sixteen, Kale is a disappointment. As the first prince ever forced to serve with low-born marines, Kale must prove himself and become a man, or else lose all chance of a worthy future, and any hope to win the love of his life. Though they do not know it, both boys are on the cusp of discovery. Their worlds and lives are destined for greatness, or ruin.

But in a changing world where ash meets paradise, only one man can be king… The first installment of an epic, low- fantasy trilogy. Kings of Paradise is a dark, bloody, coming-of-age story shaped by culture, politics, and magic.”

Title: Kings of Paradise

Series: Ash and Sand #1

Author: Richard Nell

Page Count: 608

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Date Read: May 1st, 2023

 The Kings of Paradise hit my radar for just about two years now. It intrigued me from the start but I just hadn’t found a chance to work it into any of my monthly TBR lists. Once again this year the stars have aligned. Not only did a receive a physical copy of this book as a gift, but then I also found out that our buddy read group had a mini-buddy read going with book three soon. So I went ahead and dove into book one along with another buddy who was rereading via audiobook to prepare for our book three read.
I was in no way disappointed with Kings of Paradise. I opted to listen to the audiobook for most of this one but did end up doing some emersion reading about half way through just to have a better connection. I don’t know if anyone reading this gets in the same trouble but sometimes I find myself mentally distracted and not following along as closely as I should be. This happens more with audiobooks than visual reads for me. That’s why I decided to combine the two about half way through to really sink into this read better and focus.
The pacing of book one was solid. As with many first books in a series there is typically considerable time introducing our world and characters to build that foundation of things to come. But I never had any feelings of things dragging out. Another thing I like to mention with pacing is the vocabulary and names. This was another of those that flowed well for me. I didn’t really run into many issues where I didn’t understand what was being said or stumbled with any names.
The world building was another strong aspect to Kings of Paradise. We are introduced to several difference regions and cultures throughout this story. Richard Nell has done a great job in giving us plenty of details so far but allowing for quite the world to be expanded as we move forward.
Finally, I think my favorite part of book one has to be the character development. We have some really great characters with their own experiences and growth through the first book. They are very different from each other which I always finds stories like this interesting as these characters paths begin to cross. So far this has been one of the most shining points of book one and the series in general now that I’m actually about half way through book two while I put this review together.
All in all, I feel this read is well worth the time for any reading fans of epic fantasy. These books are a bit on the thicker side but they seem to still progress very quickly and smoothly in my opinion. So if you tend to read shorter books and the size of these might be putting you off, please give them a shot!

World Building 4/5
Pacing 4/5
Character Development 5/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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  1. I just finished this series. I also listened to the Audiobook. Lister did an excellent job. The character development through book 3 only gets better.

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