Book Review: The Kinshield Legacy

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on October 19, 2010 0 Comments

The Kinshield Legacy is a well paced, intricately plotted fantasy wrapped in a beautifully crafted setting.  Author K.C. May does an exceptional job of breathing life into the kingdom of Thendylath.  The lore and history of her setting weaves throughout the plot, tying everything together expertly.  The throne of Thendylath has sat vacant for two centuries, as warring factions have prevented a new King from claiming the crown.  Meanwhile, bandits and monsters have increasingly become emboldened, terrorizing first the most remote parts of the kingdom and then moving toward more populated regions.  Throughout the book, May uses these situations to build a sense of urgency for the protagonist, forcing him to confront his personal demons and the truth of his ancestry perhaps a bit sooner than he otherwise would have wanted to do. 


The protagonist, Gavin Kinshield, is a Warrant Knight charged with protecting the kingdom in the absence of a central ruler.  Unbeknownst to his peers, Gavin is also the mysterious person who has been solving the riddle behind a magical tablet that legend claims will decide the next King.  Gavin, however, doesn’t want to be king.  Instead, his interest in solving the riddle has more to do with his desire to know what truly happened to the last king.  Though the kingdom sees his ancestor, Ronor Kinshield, as a great hero of the past, Gavin questions how it is that such a great hero allowed the king to die in the first place.  His quest to discover the truth behind the history drives him to master the secrets of the runestones and the tablet that holds them.


For all of its carefully crafted plotting and well developed world-building, however, character development is severely lacking.  Gavin is a likeable enough character, but I never developed a real emotional attachment to him.  I wanted him to succeed for the sake of the book, but I didn’t really have an empathic connection to him.  The whole of the Viragon Sisterhood are a very generic order of women warriors, who behave in that very generically female warrior sort of way.  Conversations between the various members merely reinforce the sameness of each one, as if they were made with a template and only minor cosmetic changes made to differentiate them.


Brodas Ravenkind, the antagonist of the novel, is evil for the sake of evil, and while there are attempts to give his evil a personality, those attempts simply reinforce the evil for evil’s sake motif.  He’s a villain that has to tell you what sort of evil stuff he is going to do before he does it (such as when he poisons the widow at the beginning of book).  His recruitment of the Sisterhood, while supposedly masquerading as a holy and good priest, was rather sloppy and heavy-handed for a man that is suppose to be exceptionally manipulative and sneaky.  I dislike his actions, but I never develop the sort of hatred that would make me wait anxiously in hopes of seeing him get what is coming to him.  And that sort of hatred of the villain, coupled with concern for the hero, is one of the elements that make epic fantasy epic.


Despite the character development issues, fantasy readers will still enjoy the Kingshield Legacy on the strength of its plot alone.  Though it feels like a rather linear story through the first few chapters (good hero destined for the throne versus evil villain that wants to claim the throne for himself), it soon becomes apparent that everything the people of Thendylath have been led to believe should be called into question.  Readers will want to continue reading to get those questions answered, but the answers often lead to more intriguing questions.



The Kinshield Legacy

Disclaimer:  The author provided the review a complimentary copy of the book for review.

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