Kingdom of Exiles
Author: Maxym Martineau
What I’m Talking About:
Kingdom of Exiles is the first book in the new Beast Charmer fantasy-romance series set in a world where Charmers have the ability to tame and control wide-ranging classes of beasts. The author builds the world over the course of the story, with much left to experience and learn in future titles.
This first story introduces Leena, an exiled Charmer, who illegally trades in beasts to keep herself alive. An unknown Charmer places a bounty on Leena with the undead assassin guild, Cruor. After she defeats the first assassin who comes after her, she makes a deal with Noc, the leader of the guild, that will keep her alive in exchange for beasts. Journeying together to find beasts, Leena, Noc, and a group of Cruor assassins grow close and alliances begin to change.
At about a quarter into the book, I found myself struggling to get into the story. I didn’t find the conflict compelling, yet I still wanted to find out more. So I paused reading for a while, and ended up coming back to it after a week, splitting the time between listening to the audiobook and reading on my Kindle. I mention this because the narration definitely added to my enjoyment, helping me to get further into the story.
Leena and Noc have a difficult journey. There is a strong attraction, but neither trusts the other, and both have compelling, selfish reasons for working together. She was betrayed by the man she loved, and he is cursed so that anyone he cares about dies. It takes time to build trust and finally share their pasts, allowing them to begin a future together.
The reason for the hit placed on Leena is a mystery at the core of the story, but doesn’t really come into play until the last third of the book. I like that Leena and Noc work out some of their issues before this conflict takes over the storyline. While I’m not one who usually uses content warning tags, I do want to comment on the fact that Leena is tortured at length. These scenes are not graphic, but it is clear she is treated horrifically. I feel the impacts of this torture were not adequately addressed; however, there wasn’t a lot of book time afterwards, so I’ll wait to see if it is more fully addressed in the next title before giving my final verdict.
I don’t know if this series will have a unique couple with each book, or if Noc and Leena will remain the central focus. The epilogue reminds readers that their story isn’t over, so I’m hoping we’ll continue to focus on this couple, with the supporting characters getting their due within each book.
My Rating: B- Liked It, but I had a few small issues
About the Book:
Exiled beast charmer Leena Edenfrell is in deep trouble. Empty pockets forced her to sell her beloved magical beasts on the black market—an offense punishable by death—and now there’s a price on her head. With the realm’s most talented murderer-for-hire nipping at her heels, Leena makes him an offer he can’t refuse: powerful mythical creatures in exchange for her life.
If only it were that simple. Unbeknownst to Leena, the undying ones are bound by magic to complete their contracts, and Noc cannot risk his brotherhood of assassins…not even to save the woman he can no longer live without.
Release Date: June 25, 2019
Series: The Beast Charmer #1
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Format(s): paperback (448 pages), e-book, audiobook
Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley