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Curse of Kings – Alex Barclay

“Fourteen Years Ago…
Wind rushed in from the cold night and quenched all but three of the torches that lit the great hall of Castle Derrington. King, Micah, weakened by illness, lay slumped on his throne, his breathing dry and shallow. A towering band of men on horseback surrounded him, flames dancing in their eyes, their cheeks streaked with blood.” 

Orland Born is a slave in Castle Derrington, that is the only life he has known. But when he is branded a champion in the areas Games, he fears he is in danger. When he receives a letter from a long dead king and a mysterious man tries to kidnap his fears are confirmed and he steals away, the dead king’s words ringing in his ears. 

***
I thought Curse of Kings was a YA fantasy book, which I am often apprehensive about… when I started reading I was proven wrong though, it is actually a MG fantasy book and I often long and appreciate MG Fantasy, as I worked my way through the book I realised I couldn’t put it down, I was transfixed and it was doing its job.
I read Orland’s story in just a few hours, which is no mean feat at 425 pages, and loved every second, I was sucked in from the start, wanting to know why he received this letter, why he is of any importance and what exactly was happening in this kingdom. When Orland meets people along his journey’s way it got even better and when he makes a companion out of Delphi, I loved it all even more. 
The story is pure fantasy about a land with different kingdoms, with strange mythical creatures and a mysterious island where criminals are sent to live out their days. It was a wonderful yet terrifying world and as the book contains murder on page two, its not surprising that the story is often a dangerous one. 
The characters make this book, I loved them all in different ways, even the evil Villius Ren and Wickham, who you never knew if you could trust or not. I really enjoyed following Orland on his journey and Delphi finding out her true identity. The adventure keeps you on your toes and I couldn’t wait to turn the page to find out what happened next. 
The writing is brilliant and yet simple. There aren’t many long words to confuse you like there often can be in the fantasy genre, and the beasts mentioned are often related in some way to animals that roam our planet. It flowed well and kept up suspense, which is definitely needed in this kind of fantasy setting. 
My one and only downside of the book was that the main characters name reminded me so much of Orlando Bloom I struggled for the majority of the book to think of him as Orland, it pulled me out of the book slightly as I kept expecting him to look like the elf from Lord of the Rings, which isn’t so far fetched form a fantasy book. Orland was completely human though and this did distract me a little. 
The book is the first in a series and thankfully it didn’t end on a cliffhanger but still left me wanting more. The afterward was a brilliant touch as it teased at things to come, and I cannot wait for those things. I couldn’t recommend Curse of Kings more highly and hope that any lover of MG fiction, or parent of a MG aged child reading this will go out and seek a copy for themselves! 
Curse of Kings was published by HarperCollins Children’s books in January 2013. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

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  • Great review! I’m glad that you enjoyed it even though you were slightly apprehensive beforehand. I love MG books so I’ll have to look out for this 🙂