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Book Review: The Words of Kings and Prophets

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“Ireland, 1000 AD. Gormflaith is unhappily married to Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, and although a queen she struggles with her limited position. As an immortal Fomorian with the secret gift of magic, Gormflaith has a burning desire: to find and destroy the hidden fortress of her sworn enemies, the Descendants, who seek to kill her kind at all costs. She begins to use her magical powers, and discovers she is more skilled than she ever realised… but can she control what she will become?

Meanwhile Fódla, the Descendants’ healer, mourns her banished sister but clings to life as the guardian of her young nephew. She seeks a place of safety for them both, but he has secrets of his own that could threaten everything – and Fódla must do all in her power to keep him hidden away from those who would use him for evil.

When a mysterious man comes to King Brian’s court, his presence could spell disaster or deliverance for both Gormflaith and Fódla – and for Ireland herself. For he is Tomas, an ambitious immortal with few scruples – and he will do anything to see his plans become reality.

Soon, mortals and immortals alike are drawn towards a bitter conflict that could decide the future of Ireland and all her people.”

Title: The Words of Kings and Prophets

Series: Gael Song #2

Author: Shauna Lawless

Page Count: 416

Genre: Fantasy (Historical Fantasy)

Rating: 5.0/5.0

Date Read: June 25th, 2023

Shauna’s works hit my radar almost a year ago now. I read book one of the Gael Song (The Children of Gods and Men) in July of 2022. Fast forward to this year and I was able to get my hands on a copy of book two The Words of Kings and Prophets via NetGalley recently. Book two is scheduled to release in September of 2023 so you can expect a follow-up reminder as we near the release date. Not only as a courtesy to the author and for being given the opportunity to read a copy before launch, but because I love the story that Shauna is weaving. I know she’s put in a tremendous amount of work in her research of Irish mythology and history to put these together in her own telling. As much as I enjoyed the first book, I feel book two was even better.
The pacing was smooth. The only thing I struggle with are the names of characters and locations a bit. To Shauna’s credit she does begin book two with a vast list of these people and places at the beginning of the book. This helps with reminding us of book one but also to help with pronunciations. Well that only helped my feeble brain so much. I tried my best to work with these over the first couple of chapters but then I decided to just let me own brain process them all as it will. Beyond that, I was devouring The Words of Kings and Prophets. I found myself picking this up almost whenever I could over the three days it took me to finish. I rarely found myself feeling like any part of the story was getting boring. If we aren’t experiencing action, then it’s more along the lines of drama and plot twists.
I can’t say enough about the world building in this book and series in general. As a fan of history myself, and knowing the amount of work that Shauna is putting into this story, I have all the respect in the world for this! I love the fact that she also includes many of her reference materials so that we can look into this world even more. To get back on topic though it’s such an interesting mix of locations both within Ireland as well as the factions and cultures outside as well. We have plenty of Vikings mentioned both directly and still indirectly. But we also get a good sampling of Roman influence as well as it relates to the religious side of things. I mean honestly the picture that Shauna paints for us is certainly beautiful if at times also brutal. Then you mix in the mythology and magic into this tale and it’s almost impossible for me not to fall in love with this world.
Lastly, is the character development. I began my attachment with many of these characters in the previous book. But there is still so much growth as well as a few more characters we get to know more about. Sure the Fomorians are easy to dislike in this tale, I don’t think anyone is going to argue that. But we see some of our heroes show their flaws and weakness in book two as well. Taking a step back and looking at the overall cast of Kings, does make you realize just how untrustworthy and power hungry humans can be. It takes some special people to either offset those individuals or attempt to steer them in a better direction. I’m sure most of us have heard of people that make us want to be better persons ourselves. Those are the true heroes. And this story has a good handful of them!
In closing, I will say just a couple of things. The first is that I’m going to say right now that The Words of Kings and Prophets is going to be a contender for favorite read of 2023. We will have to see how things shake out. It’s easily in my top 2 or 3 right this moment. The other item I want to get off my chest is that, I can’t wait to see what comes of our young gifted warrior! What a key part of Ireland’s future he and his found brother/friend may yet be!
I feel that any reader that is a fan of epic fantasy would enjoy this book and series. I know Shauna has put the question out there on what to truly call this sub-genre she is writing in with this series. But I do think fans of Historical or Mythological Fantasy Fiction reads will love this as well. I can’t wait to see what the third book has in store for us!

World Building 5/5
Pacing 5/5
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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