Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Grave Kingdom #1

The Killing Fog

Rate this book
The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Kingfountain series conjures an epic, adventurous world of ancient myth and magic as a young woman’s battle with infinite evil begins.

Survivor of a combat school, the orphaned Bingmei belongs to a band of mercenaries employed by a local ruler. Now the nobleman, and collector of rare artifacts, has entrusted Bingmei and the skilled team with a treacherous assignment: brave the wilderness’s dangers to retrieve the treasures of a lost palace buried in a glacier valley. But upsetting its tombs has a price.

Echion, emperor of the Grave Kingdom, ruler of darkness, Dragon of Night, has long been entombed. Now Bingmei has unwittingly awakened him and is answerable to a legendary prophecy. Destroying the dark lord before he reclaims the kingdoms of the living is her inherited mission. Killing Bingmei before she fulfills it is Echion’s.

Thrust unprepared into the role of savior, urged on by a renegade prince, and possessing a magic that is her destiny, Bingmei knows what she must do. But what must she risk to honor her ancestors? Bingmei’s fateful choice is one that neither her friends nor her enemies can foretell, as Echion’s dark war for control unfolds.

412 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jeff Wheeler

90 books4,488 followers
Wall Street Journal bestselling author Jeff Wheeler took an early retirement from his career at Intel in 2014 to write full-time. He is a husband, father of five, and a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jeff lives in the Rocky Mountains.

Jeff's blog and suggested reading order can be found on his website: http://www.jeff-wheeler.com/

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
2,847 (41%)
4 stars
2,680 (38%)
3 stars
1,055 (15%)
2 stars
247 (3%)
1 star
111 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 493 reviews
Profile Image for Khurram.
1,540 reviews6,642 followers
May 15, 2021
Destiny, faith and choice

A great book and story with plenty to come. This book is a perfect blend of Chinese culture, fantasy and Martial Arts.

The book starts as a revenge story, with martial arts and a bit of magic. I like the martial arts fight in the book are great. I really wise Martial Arts masters. That is what I think is missing from martial art teaching today. I have trained with very good practitioners of hard arts who were great coaches but not the best people to get life advice from.

A group of Martial Arts adventures have been charged with finding a lost Kingdom for its riches however what they do is unleash something long buried into their world.

I really enjoyed watching the main character grow. From someone only looking for revenge to a true warrior. I also like the fact that she is conflicted about her destiny. It makes her character more real and relatable.

This is a great book for anyone who who loves old school Kung Fu movies. The story of the book gets better as the book goes along. The action is top notch, the story is good and I can't wait for the next book.
Profile Image for Gigi.
207 reviews2 followers
February 19, 2020
This book is a trashcan fire.

I refuse to give much more time to this review cuz I want to move on, but here are a few things that made me not a fan:

- Something about a white man writing in the voice of an Asian-inspired woman made me a little uncomfortable. Not saying it shouldn't be done, but it made me feel meh. I'd rather see more own voices in this genre, rather than someone writing it because he spent a month in China.
(And, yes, I know fantasy has different acceptable rules)
- Very one-dimensional characters. One character is legit defined by his obsession with food.
- The only problems in this book were ones created by the MC
- The MC was a pain. She's introduced as this loyal person, but
- So. Much. Telling.
So. Little. Showing.
- Info dump in the prologue.
- Dialogue is important to give characters a chance to show themselves. When there's hardly any dialogue and most of that sounds like the same voice, it's not being utilized properly.

Just my $0.02.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,862 reviews1,897 followers
October 26, 2022
Pearl Rule #43 (10%; Chapter 3 did it)

Real Rating: 2.5* of five, rounded down for its out-of-step PoV and tedious writing style

The Publisher Says: The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Kingfountain series conjures an epic, adventurous world of ancient myth and magic as a young woman’s battle with infinite evil begins.

Survivor of a combat school, the orphaned Bingmei belongs to a band of mercenaries employed by a local ruler. Now the nobleman, and collector of rare artifacts, has entrusted Bingmei and the skilled team with a treacherous assignment: brave the wilderness’s dangers to retrieve the treasures of a lost palace buried in a glacier valley. But upsetting its tombs has a price.

Echion, emperor of the Grave Kingdom, ruler of darkness, Dragon of Night, has long been entombed. Now Bingmei has unwittingly awakened him and is answerable to a legendary prophecy. Destroying the dark lord before he reclaims the kingdoms of the living is her inherited mission. Killing Bingmei before she fulfills it is Echion’s.

Thrust unprepared into the role of savior, urged on by a renegade prince, and possessing a magic that is her destiny, Bingmei knows what she must do. But what must she risk to honor her ancestors? Bingmei’s fateful choice is one that neither her friends nor her enemies can foretell, as Echion’s dark war for control unfolds.


My Review
: At 10%, Bingmei sees a pickpocket steal coins from a yokel she's got to help. The clunky dialogue, with her fixing a hard gaze on the yokel before dashing off leaving him in a crowd by himself so she could flex her badassery etc etc just wore me down. I flipped through the rest of the book to see if there was something not-tedious going to happen. It didn't.

I give up. There's a lot of good fantasy written by Asian women these days...why read mediocre time-sucking fantasy by an old white guy writing in an Asian woman's voice?
Profile Image for Jim C.
1,491 reviews28 followers
March 17, 2020
I received this book thru a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for a honest review. I would like to thank the author and the publisher for their generosity.

Actual rating is 3.5 stars.

This is the first book of a series. In this one Bingmei and her companions are tasked to find a lost city. When they discover this lost city they discover more than they bargained for.

This book is a fantasy book with an Asian setting. I would categorize this book as a kung fu movie mashed up with a fantasy genre book. Right away I was into the setting as the Asian setting works well and the author excelled at portraying this setting. I liked the characters even though they fall into common tropes like the main character who has lost family or the new naive character that is infatuated with the main character. There was a sense of mystery throughout the book as the author has hinted at several developments that I believe we will eventually explore. For the action enthusiast there are plenty of battles that are well detailed and easy to follow. For me this was a flaw of the book. My opinion there were too many battles and not enough exposition. It seemed like we were going from battle to battle without furthering the plot. That being said I was interested throughout the book and I did want to keep reading.

This was my introduction to this author and I enjoyed this book. I will definitely read the second book of this series as I am interested in where it goes. This book fulfilled my fantasy itch and I loved the setting and the world the author has created.
Profile Image for CR.
2,780 reviews27 followers
December 19, 2019
Although this is set for adult readers I wanted to let you know that I think some young adults might enjoy this as well. Its a very clean story. I mean I have some young adult titles that have more gore and sex in it than this one did. Because it didn't have any. You would have thought that with a title like The Killing Fog that we would have gotten something. But there just isn't. And I am not saying thats a bad thing, but it was kind of weird if you ask me. Anyway the characters were great the pacing worked well for the story and yes I want another one!! I need more stories set in this world.
Profile Image for Christi M.
345 reviews54 followers
February 19, 2020
The Killing Fog is the first in a new Asian-inspired fantasy series by Jeff Wheeler. I’m ashamed to say I have seen his other works, but never got around to reading them even though they have been on my list for a while. So, I am very happy to be able to read this first one in his new series.

One of the main features fantasy readers always look to when attempting to decide if a book is right for them is in the world-building. In The Killing Fog, the world has associations called ensigns’, which are groups of trained warriors that can be hired for a variety of reasons. Magic is also in the world, but is never used as a first resort. Bingmei is part of an Kunmia’s ensign, an honorable ensign. The story truly begins when King Budei, one of their patrons, hires them to find an artifact at the Summer Palace. With fear of giving too much away the main story takes the reader to two different kingdoms as well as the Summer Palace, which is also called Fusang.

Although, I’m still not quite sure what to make of Bingmei’s personality, I can say for certain that I didn’t find her disagreeable, but I also didn’t find her shy or extroverted or anything particular memorable other than a special talent she has. She also has white hair – something she tries very hard to hide since her hair color is known to frighten people and make them uncomfortable. At the end of the book a very difficult decision is forced upon her and I suspect it will be her struggle with this decision that will begin to fully endear her to me.

Overall, I found the world-building easy to follow and never felt weighed down by too much being thrown at me. Lately I’ve been finding myself really enjoying the Asian-inspired fantasy novels that I’ve run across and this was no exception. At the same time, I did feel it lose just a little steam in a small portion of the book right before the climax began occurring. There was plenty going on at that moment so I’m not quite sure why I felt that way, but it occurred for me nevertheless. Even with this in mind, I definitely enjoyed the book and plan to pick up the next in the series.

Rating: 4 stars

Thanks to 47North and Netgalley for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.
Profile Image for Hannah Osborn.
20 reviews1 follower
January 12, 2020
"Revenge settles nothing. It only poisons those who carry it in their hearts.”

-The Killing Fog by Jeff Wheeler

My thoughts:

Two nights ago, I was outside with my elderly beagle. While he sniffed his way around my yard, I watched the sky. The moon was full and it cast a silvery glow on the grass and trees, only interrupted by clouds that seemed to be growing as I watched. It had been an unseasonably warm day and only now did a cold wind start stirring around me. The air was moist and seemed to run its cold fingers across my skin. As the breeze picked up, it carried the smell of damp earth and decaying leaves. The hair raised on my arms and neck as I felt like I was being watched. It was eerie and unnerving. I hurried my dog inside and dead bolted my door against the dark and whatever was in it.

You may be wondering what this has to do with The Killing Fog by Jeff Wheeler. That's reasonable. Bear with me and I'll tell you. Wheeler has a way with words that immediately pulls you into the setting within the first paragraph. He draws on all the senses in his world building and puts you straight in the middle of a world that is touched by ancient China and Mongolia. You can smell the camphor, myrrh, and cinnamon. You can hear the marketplace or the shouts of the soldiers. You can see the boats laden with fish. And yes, you can feel the eeriness and foreboding of the Killing Fog. It was a feeling almost exactly like my midnight excursion with my pup and I wanted to lock my doors lest the fog rolled in and claimed my furballs' lives.

Bingmei has faced far more than an unnerving dog walk, as she lives and breathes in this wild world Wheeler has created. She has faced loss upon loss and now struggles with developing attachments. Here are her thoughts after one such loss:

"Loss quivered in her chest again, though she tried to still the wrenching sensation . Death was something that happened often. It did no good to become too attached to people ."

Bingmei often feels throughout the book that she would not sacrifice herself for anyone. That she is selfish. Over the course of the book she comes to the conclusion that she would die for her friend Quion and that maybe she's not as selfish as she thought. When she's asked to sacrifice herself for a cause greater than herself she balks at the idea. Maybe it's selfishness on Bingmei's part or maybe it's because too many have already died to preserve her life. Maybe throwing her life away seems to her that it wastes their sacrifice. This is a truly honest feeling. How many of us would choose to sacrifice ourselves, given the chance to think about it beforehand? Overall, I don't think any of that detracts from her character since it is such a human thing to feel. Bingmei is likable and fierce. She has secret skills that are unique from most fantasy books I've read.

The supporting characters were also interesting. Bunmia Suun is her master and a maternal figure in Bingmei's life. She is highly skilled as a warrior and highly moral. Her honor and how she lives it day to day is refreshing as it's not cheesy or portrayed as weaker than the more morally ambiguous characters. She loves her followers dearly and treats Bingmei as a daughter. One quote I liked, is Bunmia describing herself:

"When I take an assignment to protect something, I protect it as a mother does her cubs. It is powerful magic. The most powerful, I believe."

We also have two potential love interests that, thankfully, never descends into a love triangle. Any romantic feelings are secondary to the rest storyline. The first is Quion. He is the sweet, steadfast boy-next-door. The other is Rowen, our brooding bad boy that is more than he seems. I look forward to seeing which one "wins the girl". This is a very clean read where love is hinted at more than anything.

One last thing, I truly appreciate what Wheeler has done with this book. The female characters are strong, fierce, moral, and honorable without falling into stereotypes that still prevail in fantasy fiction. How many times are a woman's strength portrayed as being less than a man's and she needs to be rescued from her innate weakness? Here the men and women are on equal footing. Their strengths are different but equal. If one character shows any weakness, it is because they are human, not because they are male or female. Many thanks to the author for writing his characters that way. Also, my thanks to Netgalley for the ARC on exchange for my honest review.

“Real love is displayed when a choice has to be made. It would be easy to heal everyone who was sick if it didn’t cost you anything. But what if it meant excruciating pain? Then you would have to make a choice: Do I love enough to take on that pain, or do I take the easy route and keep this gift to myself?”

Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse

Some recommended reading that I think is similar to this book:

Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse
Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse
Prophet by R.J. Larson
A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr
Red Winter by Annette Marie
Profile Image for Shelby M. (Read and Find Out).
572 reviews124 followers
March 17, 2020
I received a finished copy of this book from Wunderkind PR and 47North in exchange for a free and honest review.

Overall rating: 2 stars

- Style/writing: 1.5 stars. Unfortunately I did not find the writing to be very compelling; it was a bit simplistic for my own personal taste.
- Themes: 2 stars. The only theme of note was whether the world is indeed worth saving, and I did not find the protagonist's thoughts and reasoning on the matter to be fully formed.
- Characters: 1 star. I did not enjoy reading from the perspective of the protagonist, and found that the majority of the side characters blended together (with the exceptions of Quion and Kunmia).
- Plot: 2 stars. The story moves relatively from action sequence to action sequence. I would say that the story is more driven by the plot than the characters.
- Worldbuilding: 3 stars. My favorite aspect of the novel. I found Bingmei's ability to smell emotion interesting, and wanted to learn more about the "winter sickness." I also liked the Phoenix Blade as an important artifact. Though I do enjoy seeing influences from non-European cultures (such as the Chinese influences in this story), I prefer to see them handled with more nuance.
Profile Image for Tammie.
1,306 reviews149 followers
June 22, 2021
After reading all of the Kingfountain books and the other book series that are set in that same world, I decided to try this series that is set in a completely different one. I've enjoyed most everything I've read by Jeff Wheeler, but I have to say I did not find this one nearly as interesting. I liked the characters and at times the story would catch my attention, but there were also times I got bored with the story. Sometimes I would zone out and have to backtrack. Because of this, it took me a lot longer to read this than I thought it would.

In general I recommend Jeff Wheeler's books, but this one just did nothing for me. This is a trilogy, but I'm sad to say that at this time I don't think I will continue on to the other books. I will, however try one of his other independent series.

Review also posted at Writings of a Reader.
206 reviews3 followers
February 3, 2020
Strong yet conflicted Heroine

I'd previously read another book from this Author, so when I saw this one was available as a First Reads selection, I selected it. I was intrigued by the main character, but found the World and the plot premise difficult to absorb. The Asian names and locale were not easy to mentally pronounce or remember, making the flow of reading a little tiresome. The writing style was typical epic fantasy--flowery and overly descriptive. Although a good length for a first book in a series, the ending (?) definitely didn't resolve anything, which really left me unsatisfied.

Yes, it was interesting. There was magic, bloody action, and political intrigue. Hints of romance. Yes, I read it to the un-end. However, I'm undecided as to whether I'll read the second book. 3-1/2 Stars for me.
Profile Image for Stuart Brkn Johns.
Author 10 books135 followers
February 12, 2023
Book 1

A decent read and storyline thus far, Jeff Wheeler does have a way with building vast storylines and lore. Will continue with this series undoubtedly.

118 reviews1 follower
February 8, 2020
Good world building but . . .

The world building in this book is fantastic. The main character is well-drawn, and the plot is exciting. But far too much of the book is taken up with fight scene after fight scene. Bones crunch, blood flows and spatters, foes fall, only to be replaced by ever more mindless, faceless enemies. I got heartily tired of prolonged fight scenes. Even though I am curious about how the story proceeds, I simply can't wade through more of the same, and there is no reason to expect anything else.
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,282 reviews3,316 followers
January 30, 2021
On the one hand, we have an ancient evil ruler who wants to subjugate all humans or else he would unleash a deadly fog yada yada, but on the other, the characters (with the exception of Quion) are not deserving of my sympathies and I truly wished the fog would sweep them all into the grave beyond.

So tedious.
380 reviews2 followers
April 29, 2020
Nope. Some fantasy authors are guilty of dragging a story out so they can turn it into a hefty trilogy. This book is unacceptably slow; it might make a decent single volume story. Try it if you're young enough to invest some significant time.
Profile Image for Elena Linville.
Author 1 book54 followers
December 28, 2021
 Stars 3 out of 5

This is a solid book, so it's a solid 3 stars. For the most part, I enjoyed reading it, but it just lacked a little spark to make me absolutely love it. But let's talk about the aspects that made me appreciate the book first.

I loved the worldbuilding. With so many fantasy books based on the vanilla European Middle Ages, it's refreshing to read a story seeped in a different mythology for once. I think this world is based on Chinese history, but don't quote me on that, because I am certainly not an expert. 

It's also a broken world. There is evidence of a thriving civilization - ruins and artefacts that cannot be reproduced or even really maintained with the current technological and magical level of the people who live in the land. There is evidence of a great cataclysm, but no written records remain of what actually happened to the Ancients. Only carvings of animals and dragons, and magical artifacts that attract the killing fog when used. I was enjoying the slow exploration of this world along with the characters, and I would certainly not mind going back for some more. I especially want to see what lies behind the Great Wall. Is it really the realm of the dead, like superstition claims?

While the story takes its time to unfold and lingers a little bit too long on the setup, I didn't mind the slow pacing as much as I usually do. I was more than happy to explore all the different locations our protagonist visited. Some are truly extraordinary, like Fusang, the palace beneath the glacier.

My problem with this book is that the characters are pretty lifeless. Oh, they are well described and given distinct character traits, but they don't feel "alive". In fact, they felt like a sum of virtues and/or vices instead of living breathing human beings. The Master of the ensign is trustworthy and places honor above all else. The king is greedy to the point that this is the only thing we know about him. The young fisherman is a man of simple pleasures, but is trustworthy and very devoted to our protagonist, etc. All these support characters walk and talk, but they still feel like marionettes in a show. I mean, I finished the book yesterday, and I already forgot half of their names. That's now unmemorable they were.

It is also hard to empathize with Bingmei, our protagonist. I think the problem here is a serious lack of character drive. What does Bingmei really want in life? All we know is that she wants to kill the man who killed her family... and later on, that she wants to stay alive, even if that means that the rest of the world burns. I get no feelings from her. For someone who can "smell" other people's emotions and intentions, she is very emotionless herself. Or should I say "self-centered" instead? Yes, I think that's a better description. Bingmei is a selfish brat who only cares for other human beings in terms of how useful can they be to her. She hasn't done a single selfless act in the entire book. For someone who can read the feelings of others, she is completely devoid of empathy. It's hard to follow someone like that, or even care about them.

Despite that, I am willing to give book two a read. I want to see if Bingmei finally pulls her head out of her ass and cares for someone other than her precious self for once. And I also would like to know what happened to the ancient civilization. 
Profile Image for Francisca Pinto .
378 reviews30 followers
March 8, 2020
I recieved this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a book who fascinated me. I did´t expect anything that I read and then WOOW!!! What an awesome book.

We have a lot of girl power and that is amazing. In a oriental place where the man is most important of all the things, here we have so many warrior women who are kickass, powerful beautiful and human (they have defects too like all the human being).

Bingmei is a girl with the winter sickness (she has white air) who is an orphan because her parents and grandfather were killed when she was a little girl. Today is a warrior in a battle school and lived there with her master Kunmia, the women who rescued Bingmei when she was a child.

I feel very afraid because last year I read The Queens Poisoners and loved it and then, I read The Thiefs Daughter and hate that book. But when I read this book I feel very relief when I noticed that I really liked this book. You can find a lot of fantasy and lessons about the meaning of friendship and family, revenge and find yourself.

Bingmei had a lot of responsibility and feels afraid about that because accidentally she woke up Ecchion, emperor of The Grave Kingdom and the villain of this story. Her destiny is ready and she didn't feel good and secure.

I think all the characters are important. I only have little problems with Quion because in this moment I can´t feel he is a necessary character... for now! maybe I was wrong.
Profile Image for Marochka.
845 reviews
March 19, 2020
Очень, очень неоднозначное у меня впечатление от этой книги.
С одной стороны, я понимаю, что это фэнтези весьма качественное. Автор умеет писать, язык у него хорош. Все как-то четко, по делу. И отсутствие некоторых деталей мира (о которых не знают сами персонажи) сглаживается его желанием помочь читателям разобраться: глоссарием и списком персонажей.
С другой, мне было совсем не весело. Я много уже такого читала. И хоть идея и мир мне, в целом, понравились, читать исключительно о плавании на корабле и постоянных сражениях с одними и теми же врагами было откровенно скучно. Я вообще не люблю походное фэнтези, а про корабли - особенно.
Что касается персонажей, тут тоже все не слишком хорошо. Среди героев нет таких, которые меня бы действительно зацепили. Персонажей много, и я (за исключением основных героев) даже имен (к слову, весьма непростых) ни одного из них толком не запомнила (спасибо глоссарию!). В основном, персонажи – фоновая масса. Даже смерти их лично меня никак не тронули. Ну, умер и умер, подумаешь, я даже не помню, как его зовут и кто он такой. Да и тех, кого я запомнила, как-то было не особо жаль. Не впечатлили меня второстепенные герои.
Что же касается трех главных… Я бы, наверное, немного расстроилась, если бы кто-то из них умер, но не сильно. Сами по себе они ничего, но отношения у них прописаны так себе. Квион – милый парнишка, но автор словно нас ставит перед фактом: он друг Бингмей, он хорошо пахнет, ему можно доверять, он добрый и никогда не предаст. То есть дружба героев не особо развивается, их взаимодействий друг с другом не так уж и много, нам просто нужно поверить, что автор прав.
Примерно то же самое с Роуэном, только он личность более сложная, чем Квион, поэтому не понятно, стоит ли полностью ему доверять или же он будет в первую очередь преследовать свои цели, пустив других в расход. Пока я пыталась в Роуэне разобраться, каким-то невероятным образом (во время, видимо, кратких пауз между однообразными сражениями) он и Бингмей влюбились. Ну, точнее не совсем, но, вроде как, так. Нет, я с самого начала болела за Роуэна как за потенциальный любовный интерес главной героини, но это было опять же совершенно неправдоподобно и плохо прописано.
Вот так и описаны у автора все герои и их отношения. Он их не развивает, он ставит нас перед фактом. А я такое терпеть не могу. Если бы отношения были лучше раскрыты, меньше было бы «походов» и абсолютно одинаковых сражений, книга бы мне понравилась в разы сильнее. А так к довольно нудному и не новому для меня сюжету добавилось еще суховатое описание героев и их отношений. Это меня расстроило (если честно, всю книгу я откровенно боролась со сном, настолько она какая-то… заунывная).
Что касается оригинальности... Ну, теоретически для людей, которые читают не столько, сколько я, идея может показаться оригинальной: китайская мифология далеко не в каждом фэнтези встречается. Впрочем, не в каждом, но во многих. Для меня эта книга стала занудной версией (а местами даже копией) «Descendant of the Crane» by Joan He. А про походное фэнтези, в котором герои плывут и плывут, плывут и плывут, сражаются и сражаются, сражаются и сражаются и говорить нечего: сейчас (да, впрочем, и раньше) каждое второе фэнтези именно такое. Одна надежда в них на персонажей, отношения и юмор. Но и с этим как-то у автора не сложилось.
Самое оригинальное в книге то, что ни у кого из героев не упоминается возраст. Мы в курсе, что главная героиня молода, как и ее потенциальные любовные интересы, но точного возраста не знаем.
В общем, я понимаю, что такое фэнтези многим нравится (рейтинг книги это подтверждает), и я не спорю, что оно действительно качественное, но все же такое, определенно, не для меня. Я люблю более динамичное фэнтези, с интересным миром, харизматичными героями с юмором и хорошо прописанными отношениями. Кроме относительно интересного мира, ничего из этого в данной книге нет.

Итоговая оценка: 5/10
Profile Image for Nicole.
19 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2020
What I liked about The Killing Fog:
- I liked that this was a fast paced fantasy story with strong familial bonds between a group of mercenaries for hire.
-I enjoyed that there was a glossary and a character list included. (It looks like there is a map included in the final published version.

What I disliked about The Killing Fog:
-In the beginning, I was very confused as lots of new words were being introduced with little no defining or context clues as to their meaning. However, I did find the glossary about halfway through.
-There was little to no backstory about the magic system, the mysterious fog, or the history of the government/ruling system.
-With the fast pacing of this story, there seemed to be a lot of jumping from one event to the next with very little development to the story or discovering the character's motives for their decisions.

Who would I recommend The Killing Fog to:
-Fans of Asian inspired fantasies
-Fans of martial arts
-Fans of the chosen one trope
-Young Adult and Adult readers

Overall Thoughts:
Overall, I thought that the concept for this story was unique and could be right up my ally, since I usually enjoy stories that include fighting/training schools. However, I was disappointed in the execution and the way the author sped through information giving parts of the story.

I would like to thank NetGalley and 47North for the e-ARC I received in exchange for an honest review.
February 13, 2020
If you’re looking for fast paced stylish writing and creative plot lines and interesting intricate characters as created by George R. R. Martin, Tolkien, or even the Hunger Games trilogy, don’t bother with with this. Wheeler tells a linear tale of average interest and not particularly well. The characters are of limited dimension. None is particularly compelling, although the female protagonist has a unique ability to smell the emotions of other characters, but even that gets a bit old. All in all, an okay read, but I doubt I’ll continue on to the rest of the series. Too many good books, too little time.
17 reviews
November 11, 2020
Unlike most of Mr. Wheeler’s books, this story is a complete dud. I made it to the 5th chapter, searching for some reason to keep reading, but found none. The main character’s magical sense of *smell*, of all things, quickly became tiresome. It’s just not one of those cool traits. Might have been more interesting if she could fart a killing fog. Her fighting skills sound very much like those I’ve seen in cheap Chinese kung fu flicks—the ones with the really bad overdubs.
29 reviews
September 15, 2020
I quit about 35% of the way through because I just didn't care enough about the characters or plot to keep going-when it starts to feel like an assignment or obligation I give myself permission to quit.
154 reviews
February 26, 2020
Very YA, not recommended for anyone over age 12. Boring. Simplistic writing. Glad it was free. Not for adults. DNF.
Profile Image for Jane.
908 reviews62 followers
June 23, 2020
4 stars

You can read all of my reviews at https://www.NerdGirlLovesBooks.com.

This is a very good first book in a new fantasy series about a young girl's mission to fulfill her destiny in a legendary prophecy.

Orphan Bingmei is part of a band of mercenaries working for the ruler of a small kingdom. The ruler gives her band a dangerous mission to track down treasures from a long lost palace buried beneath a glacier. Once there, the band finds two tombs. Bingmei is unwittingly compelled to open the tomb of Echion, emperor of the Grave Kingdom, ruler of darkness, Dragon of Night. He is a cruel emperor that rules with an iron fist and kills with impunity.

Bingmei is deemed the phoenix-chosen - the only person that can stop Echion. They have been fighting this battle since the beginning of time, but Bingmei is not as thrilled to carry out her destiny. Bingmei is joined on her journey by the capable men and women of her band, as well as a fisherman friend she met on a previous journey. They meet many challenges and perils and overcome them with varying success.

I really enjoyed this book. It's very different from the author's previous works. Even though this is considered an "adult" fantasy, it is YA friendly. The violence is not graphic, and there is no sex or swearing. The book is set in a land that reminds me of Asia, and although the mercenaries use swords, their main form of combat is martial arts. There are extensive martial arts fight scenes that I'm sure will appeal to a lot of people, but after awhile it all started to sound the same to me.

There is a fair amount of world building in this book. The author does a good job of laying it out without making it burdensome to read. I like Bingmei. She is brave and strong, and holds true to her values. She faces difficult choices and even when she isn't sure what to do, has enough confidence to believe in herself. The supporting characters are fleshed out enough to add to the story, but not so much as to drag it down. The pace of the book is slow and steady, but there is plenty of action to keep the reader interested.

I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend you start this series now.
Profile Image for Michelle .
1,998 reviews226 followers
March 5, 2020

The Killing Fog is the first book in the Grave Kingdom series by Jeff Wheeler. The Killing Fog is the first book I have read by Jeff, but I know it will not be my last. I really enjoyed this fantasy novel and I can't wait to continue on in the series. The writing is richly atmospheric, and I think the age of the main character lends itself to reader crossover appeal for fans of both young adult fantasy and adult fantasy novels.

In the Killing Fog, we meet our main character Bingmei. Bingmei is a warrior and she is hired with a group of other warriors to go on a quest to find a lost artifact. Bingmei and her group end up unleashing something much more sinister on their quest than they ever expected. I don't want to give too much more away, but I really enjoyed the plot and I can't wait to see how it is going to unfold further in the next installment. The world building in this novel is excellent. It was easy for me to fall into the world and gain my bearings, which is a rare treat for me lately. There is magic present in the kingdoms, but it is a different kind of magic structure than I am used to seeing in fantasy novels. Normally, the magic is front and center and sometimes the characters lean on it with a crutch. Here fighting and martial arts are front and center with the culture, and the magic element is secondary. 

Bingmei herself is a super fascinating character. She wasn't immediately likable for me, and at times I found her to be quite prickly, but seeing her think through and reason along her quest always got me thinking. And that is the kind of character that makes for an interesting read. There is tremendous growth with her, which I found to be very satisfying. The Killing Fog seemed to be a very plot driven novel, and the plot was great for sure. I tend to be more of a character driven reader, and while the characters were good, I found myself hoping to get to know them a bit more. There are two potential love interests in the story, that we might see developed in later novels, but there is almost no romance in The Killing Fog. This will come as a surprise to no one, but I was hoping for more in the romance department as I was reading. I am certainly hoping more develops in that regard in the next book. Overall, I really liked The Killing Fog, and I can't wait to continue on in the Grave Kingdom series. 

Profile Image for Becky.
166 reviews14 followers
February 20, 2020
And this is why Amazon First Reads is a Thing, and should be cherished by all book lovers.

This BOOK. Good grief, I am SO happy that I’ve found this series. I’m not great with book series’... there’s not many that I actually finish. But from page 50 of The Killing Fog, I knew this to be a series I would continue. This is my first read of a book by Jeff Wheeler, and I am impressed!

(Just to note here: I believe this book is marketed as an adult fantasy series, however it is very accessible, in my opinion, to the young adult market too.)

Firstly, it is set in a landscape similar to the Alaskan coast (the author states at the end of the book that he was inspired by the fjords and glaciers and mountains of Alaska when writing this novel), but also uses Chinese folklore and mythology, and the Chinese culture, to weave the unique tale of Bingmei. She is unusual in her world, suffering from the winter sickness that renders her hair white and her skin pale. She is a fighter, and having watched her family murdered as a girl, she is intent upon revenge. However, on a mission to a city hidden beneath a glacier, she unwittingly brings back to life a terrifying king called Echion, who claims to be the Dragon of Night.

What I love about this book is its vividness. I can picture those gorgeous snowy landscapes easily, and without overdoing it on the descriptions, Wheeler has brought to life the Grave Kingdom. I also loved the depictions of Wangfujing, the life and colour, the smells and the food, that make this place come alive. Meanwhile, there is a fantastic cast of characters. All the women in this novel are strong and feisty, dependant upon nobody yet fiercely loyal to those they protect and work with. Bingmei’s strange ability to smell the emotions of people mean that the intentions of everyone is instantly clear to us. It’s an interesting part of the story! It is a magical tale. Magic exists in special objects, however to use them can be deadly, for igniting the magic entices the killing fog - which instantly kills anyone that it touches.

I rarely read fantasy. I dip in and out of it every now and then but only occasionally does a fantasy story really steal my attention, to the point that I now have no idea what to pick up next because I’m gutted that the second instalment in this series isn’t available for months yet. The Killing Fog, with its gorgeous world and it’s fantastic characters will stay with me for a long while.
79 reviews29 followers
May 5, 2020
Grim atmosphere; could use a lighter touch

I have been an avid fan of Jeff Wheeler from the very first Muirwood novels, my introduction to the delightful worlds of this masterful storyteller. The two Muirwood trilogies, along with the Kingfountain series, will remain among my very favorite fantasy novels of all time. That said, I found this first book in his new series somewhat disappointing.

What I love best about his other fantasies is his ability to draw appealing and believable characters, and his talent for keeping the reader spellbound through their developing relationships and conflicts. His female characters are strong and yet feminine, wounded and yet soft and self-sacrificing. But I had some trouble warming up to Bingmei as a product of a warrior culture. I admit I found her and her companions less appealing and a bit crude in comparison with the royals and lesser folk of the aforementioned realms. While Bingmei is a strong young woman with a great deal of personal baggage, I was a bit put off by her vehement reluctance to save the world, although I can sympathize with her questioning whether the world she has grown up in is worth saving. And yet she is steadfast in her loyalty to Kunmia Sun, master of her ensign. And she develops a sisterly fondness for the young orphaned fisherman her ensign rescued and adopted. So she is not as cold-hearted as first impressions might suggest.

Wheeler's male characters, especially the heroes and the romantic interests, are also well -drawn in the previous books. Their enigmatic but charming behavior as their relationships with the heroines and other companions develop, are by turns aggravating and comic, but these complications help build suspense and complement the action. However, with the scant interaction between Bingmei and Prince Rowen, he misses the mark, and I found the young Prince not so much a complex character as a contradictory personality, hard to read but not so much because of a perceived depth of character as lack of maturity and motivation. I would hope in the next books of the series to see more interaction, some inner conflict revealed, and character growth in all the younger warriors.

Finally, although the landscape is richly detailed and imaginative, the unrelieved grimness and the brooding sense of pervasive doom, keeps this one from being as hard to put down as the earlier books. I kept hoping for some light banter, comic relief, or something pleasant to break up the heaviness, or at least more communication between Bingmei and Rowen than a brief interested glance now and then. But for all that, given Wheeler's. gift for developing multiple themes, and his ability to weave intricate plots and subplots, I hesitate to knock off more than one star, in hopes that the next books in the series will rise to the level I've come to expect from a Jeff Wheeler fantasy.
Profile Image for April.
636 reviews
February 10, 2020
What a fantastic work of fantasy! I was reading two other books when I started this one and literally had to put them down while I finished this. I think fans of Priory of the Orange Tree would love this as much as I did. Endearing characters, descriptive scenery and a compelling story line made this a WINNER in my book. It's going on my favorites list. I cannot wait for The Buried World
(The Grave Kingdom #2) to come out.
Profile Image for Becky.
130 reviews
April 7, 2020
DNF at 20%. I forgot I was reading this, so I'm not going to finish it. The writing was fine, the story just didn't grab me.
Profile Image for Peter Baran.
511 reviews32 followers
March 8, 2020
Cultural appropriation is - as most things are when you get into it - an accusation of nuance. I was initially wary with this bit of high fantasy because it seemed to be leaning wholly on what felt like a Western take of aspects of Chinese myth and legend. Or even worse merely lightly skinned a pretty standard mittel-European fantasy world with a some names, a few Chinese characters and combat techniques which were more fitting to a wuxia novel than a another iron grieve punching someone in the face. But its fantasy. And here is the issue - the high fantasy of wuxia is as unrealistic and archetypal as all the dull white European feudal fantasies. Whilst it is clear where there inspiration comes from (and the author is quite clear about this in his acknowledgements), there really isn't any responsibility on him to do much more when what he has created is a closed fantasy world. The real issue is falling back on too many familiar fantasy tropes while he does it (chosen one narratives, accidentally awakening an ancient evil). The book is good on its politics, and its gender parity issues feel like some of my more favourite Shaw Brothers wuxia where the women are as vengeful and deadly as the men. Instead its written as part one of a series and is cosmetically interesting rather than revolutionary (not that it wants to be). But it was enjoyable, and the chracters were drawn with the kind of depth that will make me look at the next one - and it did make me think a little more about what you get if you ask for diversity in a hugely conservative field.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 493 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.