The Eyes of a King by Catherine Banner (Last Descendants: Book 1)

8/10 Considering her tender years Banner shows great maturity and life experience.

Five-year-old Cassius escaped the brutal assassination of his parents, the king and queen of Malonia, and was exiled to modern-day England. Now fifteen, Cassius continues to be hidden in England under the protection of his tutor, the great Alderbaran, who's ancient prophecy says that Cassius will, one day, return and claim his rightful place on the throne. At the same time, fifteen-year-old Leo remains in Malonia where a repressive dictatorial regime under the new king, Lucien, followed the assassination. One day Leo discovers a wonderful book in which parts of an epic story appear each day - a remarkable story that reveals the secrets of the prophecy, the assassination and how they are connected to Leo's own family history.

The Eyes of a King was published amidst massive media interest. It was the first book in a planned trilogy - with Voices in the Dark due in March 2010 being the second - and saw the then fourteen-year-old author unhelpfully labelled as the new JK Rowling. Although The Eyes of a King may not be one of the very best young adult fantasy books available it does however showcase a mightily impressive imagination that will ensure all who read it will continue to follow the young author’s future works with much interest.

The first two-hundred pages are rather difficult to get into. There are certainly glimpses of excellence there but there is too much that is either standard or convenient. There is also the spectre of Christian Fantasy hanging over proceedings and the concern that the author may be so desperate to get their message across that it will be to the detriment of telling a good story.

And then with half the book still to go Banner places two words, THE END, into the narrative and then followed fifty or so pages that were truly excellent; chapters dealing with events and emotions in a completely believable and upsetting way. This was the moment where it became apparent what exactly the author was capable of and what the major publishing companies have seen. Although the book did not again reach the heights it did conclude in a satisfying manner.

All in all The Eyes of a King is a real mixture, containing some good points and some bad.

The good points are the clever use of fonts to distinguish between differing narratives and the way in which Catherine Banner weaves these storylines together. The relationship between Leo and his little brother Stirling is touching, full of mutual love and a highlight of the book. This is an intricate book with the teenage characters behaving in an authentic way, it is also on occasions engaging.

The bad points are that the dialogue can sometimes be rather unrealistic and the narrative struggles to flow as a result. Although there are undoubtedly interesting ideas in there they never seem to be fully developed. The teenage angst is realistic enough but may be overbearing for some.

Considering her tender years Banner showed great maturity and life experience. Although this review may not be exactly overflowing with praise it must mentioned that there was something within this book that made it stand out from the crowd – the imagination of the author. Catherine Banner has shown that she is capable of something truly monumental and many who have read The Eyes of a King will read the next book, Voices in the Dark, hoping to find that the author’s skills have been further honed following her debut. Following Banner’s career could be an interesting and rewarding experience for many.

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2 positive reader review(s) for The Eyes of a King


Catherine Banner's Last Descendants series

The Eyes of a King

Last Descendants: Book 1

Voices in the Dark

Last Descendants: Book 2

The Eyes of a King reader reviews

from Canada

I love it right from the beginning! Its, amazing :)

from United States

I absotively posilutely luvd this book!

9.3/10 from 3 reviews

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