Book two of Paul Kearney's 'The Monarchies of God' series - The Heretic Kings - continues on very much in the same vein as the first book, so I would recommend you start by reading the review for that book first, Hawkwood's Voyage. I loved that book, and book two has a lot of the same about it.
That can be both a good and a bad thing. Kearney relies in this book a lot on contrived situations to drive the story forward, or leave it on a cliffhanger. Considering the content of the book, you can excuse him, for the moment, while similarly hoping that he doesn't make a habit of it in the remaining three books.
All that being said though, The Heretic Kings was a good book, and I enjoyed it.
The story continues, following the split in Normannia between three of the Kings and the church, which really is intriguing even if less seems to happen in the whole of this book than in the last half of the first book. It feels a little drawn out at times, and you wonder whether things couldn't have been made to happen with a little less moping amid scene.
Corfe Cear-Inaf continues to be my favourite character, and I'm disappointed to see less of him – I think – in this book than in the other. There may be just as much, honestly, I'm not certain, but what he does is definitely less. I'd love for the whole series to be split between him and Hawkwood.
Kearney does one of those things that is just a pet hate of mine. Instead of mixing all the stories in together, he splits the book in to three parts; a and c are on Normannia, b is over in the west. I would have liked to have the whole story mixed in, but I soon lost my irritation a chapter in to both part b and c, so it can't have been that bad.
There seems so little to say about this book. The story is developing, and that seems to be this books sole purpose. It seems a little more like a companion book or a novella than its own standalone book, but well written nonetheless. The story is captivating, if minimal, the fight scenes are brutal and vivid, if contrived. If you liked the first book, then The Heretic Kings will only make you want to read more of it.
Review by Joshua S Hill
Paul Kearney was born in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, in 1967. He went to a local grammar school, and then to Lincoln College, Oxford, where he read Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse, and Middle English. Shortly after leaving Oxford, he [...]
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