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Kalanon's Rising

(Agents of Kalanon #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  145 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Solve the murder. Stop the war. Save the world.
Sir Brannon Kesh spent years building a new life as a physician, leaving the name Bloodhawk and the war that spawned it behind. But when the King's cousin is murdered, duty calls him back. The crime scene suggests dark magic and the evidence points to the ambassador of Nilar, an alluring woman with secrets of her own, who sees
Kindle Edition, 424 pages
Published October 15th 2016 by Wooden Tiger Press
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Sea of Lost Souls by Emerald DodgeBlood and Shadow by Robin LythgoeThe Gates of Golorath by R.M. GarinoA Change of Rules by L.L. ThomsenThe God King's Legacy by Richard Nell
279 books — 135 voters
The Sword of Kaigen by M.L.  WangPriest by Matthew ColvilleThe Grey Bastards by Jonathan  FrenchThe Thief Who Pulled on Trouble's Braids by Michael  McClungKalanon's Rising by Darian Smith
SPFBO Finalists
48 books — 5 voters

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Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  145 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spfbo-2019
*I read this as it's a finalist for the 2019 #SPFBO and I am a judge*

This story took me a little while to really get stuck into, although it does have a pretty dramatic starting scene, but once I did it was a fun mystery and I wanted to find out who was really involved in everything. This is a who-dun-it tale with a murder of a prince taking centre stage. We follow the King's Champion, Brannon, and some others who work with him to try and uncover the secrets surrounding his unusual death and the
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a slower burn type of book, I didn’t read the blurb before I started, but it was obvious from the beginning this wasn’t going to be an action-packed battle filled book. This was focused on a murder-mystery. A murder that could have rippling consequences throughout multiple kingdoms if worst comes to worst. It managed to keep me guessing through a good chunk of the book, I wasn’t ever truly sure who was behind it all because the possible motives kept shifting my attention from one charact ...more
Nils | nilsreviewsit
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
‘The palace crypt was one of the oldest parts of Alapra. Built of granite and marble and lit with smoky torches, it had a stifling, claustrophobic feel, heavy with the lives of the dead. Carved wolf heads adorned the walls, watching over the fallen. Some were interred in the walls, with plaques to mark their places. Others were in freestanding sarcophagi with painted representations of themselves on the lids. Kings and queens slept peacefully in faded pigment as preparations began to raise one o ...more
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
It’s rare to find a decent fantasy based well written murder mystery novel which has nicely balanced the magic powers aspect with the detective and forensic skills needed to solve such matters.

Kalanon's Rising is such a book, good basic fantasy storyline, interesting characters who I hope do grow as characters as the series continues.

This is a finalist in the spfbo2019 and I did enjoy reading this one. Good solid 4 stars.
kartik narayanan
Dec 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Kalanon's Rising has in interesting premise - it is a whodunnit in a fantasy setting.

It has passable characters who make dumb choices at times. The world building is average. And the whodunnit is not that difficult to figure out. On the whole, it is an average book which will help one pass the time. But it doesn't really stand out either.
Jennifer (bunnyreads)
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spfbo-5, 2020
When the King’s nephew is killed the unusual ritualistic aspect of his death and implications of a political connection have Sir Brannon and his team working with the enemy to find the answers they need.
I really enjoyed this one.  Steady-pace, neat world, and a nice collection of fascinating characters. I especially enjoyed the women who were all capable and interesting.

Our head investigator Sir Brannon (aka Bloodhawk) is a war hero turned physician. He’s seen enough death from the war and does
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spfbo5
This was an entertaining story with a premise that seemed very unique. It was a forensic investigation, if it took place in a fantasy world with kings, mages, knights, and zombies. CSI: Westeros? Something like that. Brannon is a former-soldier and King’s Champion who has trained as a physician to try and help people instead of kill them. When someone murders a Duke’s son, it’s up to him and his team of rather interesting people to solve the case… and maybe save the world?

The characters were the
Stephen Richter
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Through the first 50 pages I though it was going one way. Then it veered, twisted, blazed and finished with a bang. A "Who Killed the Rich Dude in the Brothel?" plot with a fine collection of characters. Nice magic system, nice worldbuilding, and nice pace makes for a totally enjoyable read. If you are itching for a murder mystery mixed in with your fantasy, this book will cure that itch. Liked the characters so much I immediately brought the sequel upon finishing Book 1 in the series. Starts a ...more
Calvin Park
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spfbo-2019, fantasy
Kalanon’s Rising by Darian Smith is a fantasy novel with one of the more unique premises I’ve read in recent years. Smith crafts what is essentially a murder mystery procedural with very high stakes and puts it in a fantasy setting which makes magic an integral element of the plot. I loved it!

Smith does a wonderful job of setting the tone early. We’re introduced to Sir Brannon Kesh as a former war hero but now reluctant warrior. His loyalty to the kingdom of Kalanon is unquestioned and while he
Nov 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Murder mystery? Dark Magic? Mayhem?

Yes, please.

Plot & Structure

Kalanon’s Rising follows Brannon Kesh, an ex-soldier turned healer, investigating a grisly murder of the King’s cousin. He has to solve the case before things escalate and he needs to hurry - corpses start to pile up. Political repercussions of the crime could restart the war. Nobody wants that. 

Helped by a vain mage, a socially awkward priest, and a corpse animating shaman, he tries to solve the case.


Smith has created an
Phil Parker
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book for its originality - part murder mystery, part political thriller and part high fantasy. And it balances all three elements with such ease! It's a compelling read as well. I read it within 2 days. I couldn't put it down once I reached the 60% point! Wonderfully detailed and evocative characters which, like any good murder mystery, leaves you guessing all the way to the disclosure in the climax.
Strongly recommend this book.
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A gripping murder-mystery fantasy thriller with great characters, exciting twists and turns and a fleshed-out world.

First, I have to point out that I received a free ebook copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review and this in no way affects my evaluation.

Let me start off by saying that this is a fantastic book. It’s a fantastic book that I initially had reservations about from the synopsis. A murder mystery wasn’t really ever the type of thing I’d be interested in, and doubted i
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I picked this up because I saw a positive review of it on the website for SpecFicNZ, an organisation that both the author and I belong to. (We're acquainted in real life.)

I wasn't disappointed; it's a compelling, twisty mystery in a high-fantasy setting, with well-developed characters. I completely failed to guess the identity of the antagonist, which was great.

I've shelved it as "deserves-better-editing," which is the tag I use for well-told stories that are a bit scruffy around the edges as
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it

Kalanon’s Rising by Darian Smith is a gripping and unique whodunit murder mystery laced with the arcane and political intrigue. At its heart, it highlights the ideal that in order to build a brighter future one must let go of the dark pain of the past, and that people can, in fact, change for the better. Within its pages we investigate a string of perplexing murders, following a grisly trail of blood that leads to several truly shattering truths. While the answers to the mysteries are a bit pred
Queen Terrible Timy
Kalanon's Rising is one of the SPFBO5 finalists, which I've read as a judge. Official review and rating will follow soon.
Benny Hinrichs
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the type of book that if someone asked me if they should read it I would say absolutely. But if someone asked for general book suggestions, I probably wouldn't name it. Meaning, it was good, I enjoyed it, but it didn't quite make it to the great category.

I generally liked the pacing and plot points, but some of them that I think were supposed to be surprising were quite transparent. For example, the whole exchanging the weapon for earth spirit power at the end. I knew exactly what was me
Jonathan Pembroke
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spfbo-finals, indie
I enjoyed this one quite a bit: a fantasy detective story with potential demonic involvement. The protagonist, Brannon, leads a team to solve the murder of a royal family member and for the most part, the story flows well. The characters felt distinct and played off each other well. I thought the end was slightly predictable (guessing the nature of the murder) and there was one massive plot hole that felt glaring but I think the strength of the writing and the likable nature of the characters wa ...more
Mar 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Investigative mystery with some Magic thrown in. Nothing really stood out particularly for me. But the plot pacing is good and has enough twists and turns to keep one entertained.
Rebecca Armstrong
Jun 28, 2020 is currently reading it
First impressions were first posted at Uptown Oracle and as a booktube video

Full review to come!

SPFBO 2019 Top 10 Finalists – Try a Chapter and First Impressions Book Reviews

This years Self-Published Fantasy Book Off, or SPFBO for short, has recently started and I was intrigued about quite a few books on the list. I was also looking back at the previous years and realised just how many of the finalists I’d heard of as really good fantasy books. Of course I really wanted to read
David Souch
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Really fun read - C.S.I- Middle Earth if want a quick idea of this one
T.O. Munro
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read Kalanon's Rising as it was a finalist in the Fifth Self Publishing Fantasy Blog Off - organised by Mark Lawrence, and I was a contributing judge for the Fantasy-Hive Blog team.

I thought the key plot premises were quite innovative - a king's champion, turned medical practitioner who has to take on a further career as detective to solve a potentially peace shattering murder mystery. It isn't perfect, and some twists were easier to spot than others, but it rattles along at a good pace to mak
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A delightful fantasy mystery full of vibrant characters in an intricately built world.
Kitvaria Sarene

This one started well for me. I liked the characters right away and was intrigued by the mystery! Since I enjoy both crime and fantasy it seemed a great mix.

The characters didn’t stay as well thought out and believable to me as they had started. Our “investigators” who are supposed to be experts and very bright seemed a bit blind and deaf at times. I was also quite annoyed by a few things they did, like blurt out things that should have been secret or let strangers in on an investigation. I
Mark Parker
Jan 10, 2020 rated it liked it
'Kalanon's Rising' is the fourth finalist (out of ten) that I have read as part of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) 2019 competition. It tells the story of Sir Brannon Kesh and his attempt to unmask a mystery that threatens the very existence of his homeland.

'Mystery' is the key word here. I am not well-read in this genre (and even less so when it comes to combining mystery with fantasy) and so this was quite a novel experience for me (best pun ever). So I suppose one of the additiona
Assaph Mehr
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Kalanon's Rising was one of the finalists of SPFBO 2019, and the premise of magical murders mystery caught my eye.

What to Expect

The murder of the king's nephew (and presumptive heir) is guaranteed to draw attention. The King's Champion, a current physician and previous war leader, is tasked with finding the murderer and resolving what promises to be a highly political crime.

Together with a few unlikely helpers, Sir Brannon must navigate a world where mages draw on spirits from other worlds and a
Martin Owton
Jul 01, 2020 rated it liked it
There's a lot to like in this book; rather than the usual epic fantasy fare of heroes struggling against some existential threat to the empire/kingdom/world Kalanon's Rising presented as murder mystery in a fantasy setting. There are some interesting world-building quirks - they have gas lighting though without the other indutrial infrastructure that supports it, but this isn't actually used in the story. It is multi-POV, though there were a few annoying points where I felt the author did not di ...more
Feb 09, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Really interesting at moments, and then terribly disappointing at others. A bit too many convolutions to the story, while some things seemed glaringly obvious to the reader, if not to the characters. I would have liked to see more character development than was there, particularly with the MC. The writing was decent, which is why I have given it 3 1/2 stars. I'm on the fence about whether or not I will purchase book two.
Tristen Kozinski
May 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Decent prose and characters but the story itself, and to some extent the characters, never really caught my interest. The characters had no personal narratives or conflicts and the story suffered from somewhat weak plotting. 'Predictable' is too strong a word, but nothing the story attempted surprised me, inspired doubts or invited me to really think about what was happening and where everything was going.
There were some neat worldbuilding elements with one of the countries, but that country is
Lisa Cassidy
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
A super fun murder mystery in a fantasy setting!

My second last SPFBO read by @dariansmith. Whoo I loved the little team of murder investigators in this book! If you love a good murder and political mystery wrapped up in a fantasy setting, you'll like this book! My favourite was the priest who was also an expert on poisons, but all the characters were really well drawn, including our MC, Brannon, who is the strong, slightly broody but really good-hearted type. A recommended read from me!
Awesome Indies Book Awards
Awesome Indies Book Awards is pleased to include KALANON’S RISING (Agents of Kalanon #1) by DARIAN SMITH in the library of Awesome Indies' Badge of Approval recipients at ...more
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