Book One of the Kingdom of Graves Series.
By Leland Myrick.
The war with the Kingdom of Graves is coming to a head. Jorophe finds himself scruffily attired in an overstretched army facing a battle that his command cannot hope to win. He clings onto his captain’s advice: to just kill one enemy at a time as he waits in line for the approach of the Kingdom warriors. Sparing one last thought for his lost love, he fights.
Two years after Ostholt’s defeat by the Kingdom of the Graves, Jorophe finds himself in the service of those he used to call enemy. Even worse, he is to be recruited into a special branch of the Kingdom of the Graves Guard – The King’s Ten. Ten highly skilled warriors that are charged with the highest order of them all: to protect the King. All Jorophe need do before he is recruited rather against his will into The Ten is to pass a test, or nine.
But all is not well in the growing Kingdom of Graves and there are darker enemies at hand than soldiers. Threats from religious cults, disappearing children, demons, magics, and assassination plots are all stacking up, and Jorophe discovers that he was recruited for more than just his skills in battle.
Meanwhile, Lord Prosper, the King’s Minister of Information, dispatches his best shadows to find out more about the evils that threaten the Kingdom. Some go to track down assassins, some to investigate the strange activities of the religious cults and one sets out to bring back a mage. Prosper’s tools are all in place and now the race is on to find out who will succeed and who will fall.
The Ten follows the stories of Prosper’s various recruits in a pacy, action-packed narrative that draws its strength from an ability to play out numerous plot threads in a controlled manner so that the reader remains engaged with each character throughout the narrative. The visual descriptions are one of the main strengths here and I felt instantly drawn into this world. Myrick writes confidently in well flowing prose using just a touch of humour to lighten more serious parts of the story.
This is a large, developing story and as I got towards the end of the book I felt that many parts of the narrative were only just starting to play out. As the story progressed, more and more characters came into play and even at the very end new developments were happening to constantly make me question who is behind all of the evil deeds.
Certainly there is much left unanswered in this first book in the Kingdom of Graves series that will need to be expanded, explained and concluded in the follow up, so this did feel very much like a beginning rather than a complete story. Nonetheless this was an enjoyable read and a strong start to a new series that I would like to see in its entirety.