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City of Kings

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  161 ratings  ·  50 reviews
War makes monsters and corpses of us all.

For generations the blooded have ruled the Wilds, cultivating a lawless frontier and bleeding the good folk dry. The Black Thorn, once the most wanted outlaw the world has ever seen, is set on stopping them, and bringing an end to the great game that oppresses them all.

Crucible is the only blooded fortress left, but not for nothin
Kindle Edition, 300 pages
Published August 6th 2018 by Rob J. Hayes
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Rob Hayes Mihir has the time line diwn perfectly. It's almost as though he has quizzed me extensively on the subject. ;-)

I'm in the process of trying to find a…more
Mihir has the time line diwn perfectly. It's almost as though he has quizzed me extensively on the subject. ;-)

I'm in the process of trying to find a narrator for the audiobook. It is coming, but probably towards the end of the year.(less)

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4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  161 ratings  ·  50 reviews

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James Tivendale
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I received an advanced reader copy of City of Kings in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Rob J. Hayes for the opportunity.

After having thoroughly enjoyed Hayes' Best Laid Plans duology I jumped at the chance to read City of Kings early - which is set in the same world. The action here follows the events of Hayes' The Ties That Binds trilogy and features many characters from those books. That being said though it acts as a complete standalone. I've not yet read the previous trilogy bu
4+ roundup and extra credit for this extremely high-quality indie release.

The closest comparison is Joe Abercrombie's writing. In fact, this story reads a little like The Heroes + Best Served Cold + Red Country got rolled into one action-packed narrative. See for yourselves: the plot takes place just over a few days, in a fantasy setting with a strong western flavour with a powerful female protagonist driven by a revenge agenda.

I enjoyed the pacing, the characters and the worldbuilding. This is
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, grimdark
You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.

I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Rose has decided that she will become queen of the Wilds or die trying, and the Black Thorn is dead set on doing everything in his power to keep his heavily pregnant wife happy. For the most part, this story takes place over the course of a week as Rose and her Thorn lead their army of misfits in a siege of the last city holding out against Rose’s reign. Her goal is
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was super excited to pick this book up after having read other books by this author and knowing I enjoyed the world. This is set following some of the characters from the Ties That Bind series but there's also some overlap with the Where Loyalties Lie books in terms of timeline and characters. However despite that you can start with this book and it will more than likely make sense as a first book. You'll just more from it if you have read the previous ones.

This story follows a siege and conq
C.T. Phipps
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grimdark, fantasy
What happens when you find out after traveling with a bunch of people you took to be lovable antiheroes that they were, in the end, just plain evil? This is an interesting question that doesn't often come up in grimdark despite the fact it is a series based around the principle of there being no good people and only various shades of black. One instance this happened with me was the FIRST LAW TRILOGY where Glokta, after being one of the most fascinating sympathetic characters for two books, even ...more
Hiu Gregg
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rob J. Hayes is an author with a lot of eyes on him at the moment. Fresh off of winning the 3rd annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off with his piratical fantasy Where Loyalties Lie, Hayes returns to that world with this stand-alone story.

I should mention that prior knowledge of the other books in Hayes’ First Earth Saga is not required to read this story. On the contrary, if you’d like to see if Rob’s books are up your alley but aren’t quite so sure about committing to a trilogy or a duology, C
The Nerd Book Review
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Well holy hell this was a good book! 5+.

The Nerd Book Review

Rob Hayes recently won SPFBO for his novel Where Loyalties Lie, a book I really enjoyed. Hayes is a grimdark author who I think does a better job of walking that fine line between using the right amount of vulgar language and sex and going too far better than any other author in the genre. There's a swagger to his characters that makes me enjoy them even if they're assholes who will kill at the drop of a hat.
What surprises me the most
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read full review over at Fantasy Book Critic

Overall rating = 4.5 stars

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: City Of Kings is Rob J. Hayes' next spectacular fantasy title after his SPFBO win early this year. This book is a standalone title focusing on the Black Thorn, his queen Rose and their gang as they try to conquer a city. This book while being a standalone entry is part of the author's grand plan for his world called the First Earth Saga. Simply put The Ties That Bind trilogy was the first foray. The Best La
Aug 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Actual rating: 3.5/5

Hayes set the bar high with Where Loyalties Lie. I was curious if he would outdo himself in near future. Let's see.

City of Kings is set in the same world as Hayes' other books and while focused on characters introduced in his previous series, it works as a standalone. Rose and Black Thorn are a power couple, but in reality, it's pregnant Rose who holds the steering wheel. She wants to become the queen of Wilds and everything goes according to plan until her army tries to conq
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced copy in exchange for review. Though, honestly, I had planned to buy it anyway upon release after enjoying The Best Laid Plans duology so much.

City Of Kings is set in the same world as The Ties That Bind and The Best Laid Plans, though this is a standalone.

Aside from the prologue, this takes place over the course of just 6 days. There's definitely an element of running out of time running through this. Due to the differing perspectives with different people working towards
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is set in the same world as The Ties that Bind series, as well as the Best Laid Plans duology, I’ve only read the first book in both of those series, but I was able to enjoy this book all the same since this is designed to be a stand-alone novel.

There are two main characters, Rose and The Black Thorn and they’re actually married, but this isn’t a romance novel by any means.

Rose is the mastermind behind a new uprising in The Wilds, the Blooded Families have been ruling The Wilds for a long t
Rob Hayes
Sep 06, 2018 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Did you know City of Kings has been longlisted in the BookNest 2018 rewards? You can vote now for your favourite trad pub, self pub, and debut titles of this year.
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate enough to beta read City of Kings, and I can definitely say it works as a standalone novel. Despite not having read previous books with these characters, I was able to feel connected to them and genuinely cared about their fates.

Rob Hayes does an excellent job of balancing action, intrigue, and character development. He filters in details from their past exploits, so you definitely have a sense that these characters have been through a lot together, but here they are on a new mis
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!

Rob J. Hayes is an author who has been on my radar for quite a while now, largely because of his most recent SPFBO 2017 winner, Where Loyalties Lie. I've not yet had a chance to pick it up yet, but I was recently contacted by Rob J. Hayes in regards to his latest release, City of Kings, so I happily jumped at the opportunity. City of Kings acts as a standalone, but it takes place after the events of Hayes' Ties That Bind trilogy and I'm sure having
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Full review is here, on my blog!~ :)

I seriously loved the Best Laid Plans duology, and so I was quite excited to crack this one open and fill my eyeholes with it.

In this story, we have the Black Thorn, and his wife Rose, who are on a mission to take over the area of this world known as the Wilds. It’s pretty much them vs the blooded, who are somewhat like the nobility here, and they’ve eliminated all but 3 of the blooded families and taken their cities. Those 3 families are all holed up in one b
Miriam Michalak
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Another cracking read from Rob J. Hayes.
In this standalone book set in the First Earth world we rejoin Rose & The Black Thorn as they endeavour to rid the wilds of the last of the blooded folk. And they go about it in the most bloody of ways. War is a dirty business! Parts had me cringing and others cheering and I devoured the book in a few hours. Fast paced with fabulous characters.
This work can be read without having read any of the other First Earth books but I'm glad to have read the Ti
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-not-read
A few months ago, I had the chance to read Never Die, also by Rob J. Hayes. That had been my first book by him and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Needless to say I was looking forward to reading City of Kings, also by Hayes, a book that I received through the TBRindr program.

This story occurs over several days as one army, led by Rose and the Black Thorn from The Wilds, lays siege on the supposedly impenetrable walled city of Crucible (also known as the City of Kings). Rose, who is expecting their fir
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is essentially Hayes' version of (Abercrombie's) The Heroes. It's a standalone, battle-driven novel set in the Ties That Bind world. Rose and the Black Thorn are on a mission to rid The Wilds of the blooded families who have repressed the natives for a long time. I won't get into much of what happens (you need to read this) except to say it's at times hilarious, scary, bloody, and sad.

Rob has firmly entrenched himself as my favorite author (Sorry Joe and Mark). He manages to put so much per
Joseph Vanucchi
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some of the best

I love this world and the characters in it. Always seems like the author paints a very vivid picture, and not just with battle least for me there were quite a few laugh out loud moments...Anders usually. Oh, and it's good to see the word "murderess" get it's due thanks to Henry! (in fact I just had to add it to my kindle's library). Highly recommend all these books, and just realizing all that's happened so far I'm about to re-read some
Jon Adams
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book, but I have questions! They may have been answered in other books but I have a horrible memory and read a lot.

Here's one (I marked it as a spoiler): (view spoiler)
Eleanor Frisch
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book through TBRindr. The book focuses on a pregnant, ruthless woman named Rose and her husband the Black Thorn as they execute a siege of the city of Crucible with the goal of overthrowing the noble-blooded overlords of the Wilds. I would recommend it to anyone interested in a gritty, grimdark book with lots of battles and deeply flawed characters.

The best thing about this book is its ensemble of distinct and multi-dimensional characters and the dynamic between them. T
Kitvaria Sarene
I really enjoyed this one! The main characters really are what makes this special. A big but not very intelligent brute and a pregnant ex-whore who are on the way to rid the land of bad people and take over the rule. Some of the side characters are also simply brilliant! I want to go to the pub with all of them and drink myself stupid...
They really are my kind of people and I enjoyed every second I got to spend with them!

It's quite a bit dark, but not overly so. It has some big action scenes, bu
Vicki Orton
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story is not for the feint hearted for certain! Or lovers of any of Haye's First earth characters as the death toll is certainly huge and he is definitely not afraid to do away with any of your favourites; it is true, No One Gets Out Alive! Absolutely brilliant, exciting, brutal, bloody, scary and will tug at your emotions; yes the ending made me cry.... Adored the return of characters I had loved in the Ties That Bind trilogy and to see how they have developed in the intervening years; the ...more
Al Burke
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In just two words - simply awesome. Full review here -
Amber Gregory
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
If I was being totally objective in this review I would have given a 5 star rating. Problem being that objective reviews are impossible.

This is not noob fantasy. This is a great writer with polished craft further exploring a world and characters that are fully realised. In fact, scrap characters, these are people. You can almost smell them (may want to breathe through your mouth sometimes). Apart from the odd troll and resurrection of the dead, I didn't have to suspend disbelief in the slightes
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is intense. It is a stand alone, but the 6th in the author's First Earth world. It can be read on its own, but adds depth to the setting, and for some characters, it's a continuation of his previous series.

It reminded me of my experience with Joe Abercrombie's "The Heroes", which was the first JA book I ever read and which prompted me to read all of his other books. So if you haven't read Rob Hayes' books, this one will certainly compel you to grab all the rest just to explore First E
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unsurprisingly superb

This would rate as one of my favourite books of the year to date (and I am just under my 100 goodreads target so that is quite a few). I would absolutely recommend to anybody that enjoys a well constructed story.
City of Kings continues to develop the story and character evolution so well established in previous books.
What I particularly enjoyed was how Rob managed to keep the storyline fresh, mixing up equal doses of humour with well constructed, plot development.
I'm really
Matt McAbee
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received a free copy of this book through TBRindr to leave an honest review.

The Wildlands have been controlled by the blooded lords for far too long and they must be stopped. Rose and Black Thorn lay siege to the last city of the blooded lords in an attempt to bring peace to the Wildlands.

Rob J Hayes using his masterful talent has delivered a gripping tale of a city under siege. This book is full of suspense, action, and plenty of blood. A must read for all grimdark fans.
Chris Hazen
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cameron and I review City of Kings in this episode of Nerd Book Review. Listen to the episode, read the book, and also (because I don't remember if we mentioned it) marvel at that cover art. It's a beaut.

Spoiler: We both really liked it.
Apr 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
3 Stars

A blood soaked entry in the First Earth world, City of Kings was a mostly satisfying standalone story.

Set after the events of The Ties That Bind trilogy, City of Kings is the story of an assault on the city of Crucible. The blooded, the rulers of the Wilds, are gathered behind its walls as the Black Thorn and his allies try to eliminate the blooded from the Wilds once and for all.

First things first, while this is a standalone story, having read the previous trilogy would definitely be h
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Winner of Mark Lawrence's 3rd Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) with Where Loyalties Lie

Rob J. Hayes was born somewhere south of the cockney wastelands in a small town called Basingstoke. He grew up with all the usual boy toys including Lego, Star Wars figures (complete with working lightsaber action) and plenty of Transformers. Playing with these toys inspired his imagination and as soon as
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