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Legend of Tal #1

A King's Bargain

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The legend of Tal Harrenfel is sung across the Westreach - and with each telling, the tales grow taller. But though he’s declared a hero by his King, Tal has never claimed to be more than a man...

After three decades of fighting warlocks, killing mythical beasts, and hunting enchanted treasure, Tal has had enough. Running from the deeds of his past, he retreats to his home village under a different name and meets an unlikely companion: Garin, a village boy who dreams of making a name for himself and seeing the world beyond their sleepy town.

When Tal receives a mysterious visitor, both he and Garin are thrown into a journey across the kingdom. Soon, they become embroiled in the plots of monarchs, on the front lines of an ancient war, and at the mercy of a fabled sorcerer.

Now Tal must live up to his legend, and Garin discover his own power, to survive the forces pitted against them…

352 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 1, 2020

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About the author

J.D.L. Rosell

37 books388 followers
J.D.L. Rosell is the author of Legend of Tal, Ranger of the Titan Wilds, The Runewar Saga, The Famine Cycle, and Godslayer Rising. He has earned an MA in creative writing and has previously written as a ghostwriter.

Always drawn to the outdoors, he ventures out into nature whenever he can to indulge in his hobbies of hiking and photography. Most of the time, he can be found curled up with a good book at home with his wife and two cats, Zelda and Abenthy.

Find out more at www.jdlrosell.com.

His books include:

1. The Last Ranger
2. The First Ancestor
3. The Hidden Guardian (release TBA)

1. The Throne of Ice & Ash
2. The Crown of Fire & Fury
3. The Stone of Iron & Omen

1. A King's Bargain
2. A Queen's Command
3. An Emperor's Gamble
4. A God's Plea

1. Whispers of Ruin
2. Echoes of Chaos
3. Requiem of Silence
Secret Seller (Prequel)
The Phantom Heist (Novella)

1. Catalyst
2. Champion
3. Heretic

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 146 reviews
Profile Image for Nick Borrelli.
368 reviews354 followers
June 11, 2020
A KING'S BARGAIN was such a nice breath of fresh air for me as I had recently just come off reading a couple of books that didn't really connect with me. When I first began reading it I couldn't help but draw some comparisons to the Dragonlance books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman that I loved so much in my younger days. The story definitely had that type of feel form me (minus the dragons). This is a quest fantasy with a central mystery at its heart that involves the legendary Tal Harrenfel and his two companions Aelyn and Garin as they attempt to discover who in the King's court is a traitor and potential assassin. Making things even more complicated is the fact that in all likelihood the infiltrator may have the ability to shapeshift into any persona they wish. In this book, friend could be enemy and nothing is very well what it seems. The only question that remains is can Tal summon up the courage and guile of a time long gone by to put a stop to the evil perpetrator and discover who else may be behind the treachery brewing within the kingdom?

I found this book extremely hard to put down and that is really the best testament I can give to how much I enjoyed the overall story, characters, and world-building. While much of the themes and plot are similar to many other fantasy books, there was something special about A KING'S BARGAIN that made it seem wholly original and fresh in my mind. The characters were incredibly well fleshed out and young Garin especially shows a significant amount of growth from the early chapters until the end. And what an ending it is by the way! I can't say enough about how pleasantly surprised I was by this fantasy tale and how much I need book 2 in my hands as soon as possible! Read A KING'S BARGAIN by J.D.L. Rosell, you won't be sorry that you did. Excellent heroic fantasy mixed with sword & sorcery that will keep you turning the pages feverishly to find out what happens next. All in all a very fun and entertaining ride.
Profile Image for Carrie .
980 reviews453 followers
June 11, 2020
You know when you start reading a new to you author, that feeling as your eyes traverse the pages soaking up the words, the forming of the world and characters, that this author will quickly become a new favorite. Then with time hopefully a beloved one.

Well this was the case with A King's Bargain book 1 of Legend of Tal by J.D.L Rosell. This is a story that will suck you in, leaving the real world behind, making you forget all as you lose yourself in the tale.When having to set this story down, I could not stay away for long as I needed to get back with Tal, Garin and Aelyn to continue our adventures.

Come join Tal and his companions as they embark on their quest to find the kings traitor, for it will be a tricky one at. How does one find a traitor that can change face?

Come grab a glass of marsh whiskey or Jakadi wine if you prefer the finer stuff

Come hear tales of the Legend that is Tal

A coming of age tale, filled with adventure, magic, quests, elves, warlocks, mages, a bard and a war. Good vs Evil.
But most of all heart.

Check out my blog post to enter the giveaway: I Can Has Books?
Profile Image for ♥Milica♥.
895 reviews255 followers
September 14, 2022
DNF @ 65%

You know, I really thought I'd finish this, but unfortunately I'm not motivated enough to. The prequel gave me a feeling that this might not work for me, but I didn't want to judge it based on barely 30 pages so I decided to give it a try, since I already had the audiobook.

The audio itself is perfectly fine, I have no complaints. The narrator is good and has a nice voice.

But the writing...it's not bad, but something about it is not quite my taste. I can't put my finger on it, I just dislike it.

The story feels very The Name of the Wind at the start which I suspect contributed to my negative feelings. But hey, if you like that then you might love this.

The characters? I wanted to like Tal, but the way he was described made that impossible (subtle The Name of the Wind influences there too). At least it was clear he was the main character. Everyone else was forgettable.

I'm sad that I didn't like this.
Profile Image for Athena (OneReadingNurse).
692 reviews98 followers
April 30, 2023
I Love this as a classic feeling trope filled fantasy. Everything from a magic ring to a small town boy apprenticed to definitely not a hero in hiding being dragged back to war. Does someone get tangled up with an evil piece of jewelry? You bet. Is there old sorcery and some hugely powerful rumored item? Yep.

That said, I love it. This is an easy read with likeable characters and enough world building and present atmosphere to feel immersive. I like the humor and the cranky king (who's about my age). It's not all fun and games but certainly kept me entertained.

I Listened to most of it on audio and love the narrator. I kept it at 1.10x to hear the names better. The narrator doesn't speed up well but I'm in no rush and enjoyed it at next to normal speed. I've got book two too (thanks audible)! Then have to decide if I want to buy three and four with audio, or use Kindle 🤷‍♀️
Profile Image for Justine.
223 reviews60 followers
June 7, 2020

“I've never claimed to be more than a man.”

A King's Bargain by J.D.L. Rosell is a captivating and inspiring epic coming-of-age, feel-good fantasy tale of legends and forging one's own path. Within its pages, readers are immersed in a story illustrating the fragile balance of good and evil, an everlasting battle for sovereignty, and the importance of choice. Beautifully conveyed and steeped in myth and magic, the promise of adventure and discovery sinks its claws in, refusing to let go even after the final page is turned. Brilliant characterization, a gripping mystery, and a setting with a deeply rooted history, this is a must-read for all fans of classic and modern fantasy alike.

Rosell crafts a wonderfully developed cast of likable characters, each playing a critical role in the advancement of the story presented. Tal Harrenfel, a living legend bearing the weight of ballads sung behind bright smiles. Garin, apprentice with a burning need to seek the secrets of the world. Wren, a determined girl with her sights set on creating a name for herself. Falcon, a bard with a proclivity for bending the truth. Aelyn, a rancorous mage who's incapable of refusing aid for those in need. Although so very different and distinct, the dynamics between these characters–frenemies, budding love, tried and true friendship, found family–are nothing short of wonderful.

“I'll earn my own name,” he whispered to the night sky, hidden beyond the thatched roof. “I'll earn my stars.”

As we flip through the pages, we're submerged in a riveting world rich with history and legends of epic proportions. The adventure we're swept along takes us from the quaint farming village of Hunt's Hollow to the fog-laden, haunted ruins of Erlodan's Castle to the sprawling city of Halenhol, dominated by the sky-soaring Coral Castle. An over-arching mystery delivers us to each of these unique locations, which house their own veiled mysteries waiting to be unearthed. Rosell injects just enough details to set the stage, allowing imagination to run rampant. And while this story involves a great deal of travel, he smartly emits most of the “let's stop to make camp” bits, benefitting the fluidity of the narrative.

The writing itself is absolutely superb. Told with flowing, polished prose, the engaging plot is portrayed with near perfect pacing. Informational morsels are intelligently revealed to readers as the characters experience specific situations–there's very little fluff in this concise epic. Rosell employs the use of spoken tales within the tale to educate on the histories of the world, as well as shed some light on the dangers that lurk beyond the horizon. While I appreciated these enriching my reading experience and building some delicious tension, at times I felt they slightly pulled me from the present. There's also a shallow learning curve (which I always appreciate) allowing the audience to easily and comfortably settle into the story being weaved.

“You've a fire in you, Garin. You need to feed it with all the World has to offer. If not, if you stay here without venturing away…” She shrugged. “I'd be afraid of that fire burning you up inside.”

A King's Bargain is an engrossing foundation of Rosell's Legend of Tal series, illustrated by dangerous secrets entangled throughout. While this story ties up nicely, the beginnings of another grand adventure are sowed, which left me in dire need for more. The blurb's description of “The Name of the Wind meets Witcher” aptly describes what lies within these pages, and it makes for one excellent read that's almost impossible to put down. If you're on the hunt for a sweeping epic, yet intimate tale with excellently drawn characters, then look no further – A King's Bargain is exactly what you're looking for. I thoroughly recommend.

My Rating: 4.5, but let's round up!

Note: A huge thank you to J.D.L. Rosell for providing me a complementary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


See this review and others at Whispers & Wonder
Profile Image for Wade Johnston.
109 reviews
March 8, 2023
This was a last minute buddy read which I ended up rather enjoying. It's full of tropes and doesn't really do that much to subvert them but I think this is intentionally done and is for people who enjoy those tropes and are looking for something old but new in the fantasy genre. Need to stew on this for a few days before I leave a full review
Profile Image for Kristen.
578 reviews110 followers
June 15, 2020
This review is also on superstardrifter.com

This is the story of Garin, who is a young farmboy who lives in the tiny sleepy village of Hunt’s Hollow. He spends a lot of his free time hanging out with the odd chicken farmer named Bran, who is, among other things, awful at farming chickens.

One day, Bran has a visit from an old acquaintance of his, letting him know that he has a summons from the King. Bran takes Garin with him when he goes, and as they travel, Garin learns what Bran can teach him, about everything from swordfighting to reading and writing.

Of course, Bran is quite a lot more than he appears (not a surprise to anyone… except Garin) – he’s really Tal Harrenfel, the legendary warrior, Magebutcher, Red Reaver, etc, etc, etc. A man who bards sing the exploits of, and whose name is known pretty much all over the land.

This was the sort of epic fantasy that I enjoyed reading when I was young. Old Hero takes Young Apprentice on Coming of Age Journey to kill an Evil Magician on The King’s Orders.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed it quite a bit, even though it does very much include many tropes that you can find in a whole host of epic fantasies from time immemorial. It uses them well, though, and I think that’s why I latched onto it so easily. I found myself reading until well after it was bedtime. It was well written, paced well, and well edited. I enjoyed the characters quite a lot. It was easy to cheer for Garin and Tal. The Big Secret that was supposed to stay secret did so (at least to me) until revealed.

This one ended in a good place and left me with questions, but without leaving a cliffhanger. I think that one day soon I may attempt to insert the next volume in the series into the extremely-tippy-jenga-tower of books that is my TBR.

Profile Image for ShannaBanana✨.
509 reviews29 followers
January 31, 2022
I liked Tal and Aelyn but I can’t stand Garin. Sorry not sorry. He is so run of the mill, boring and quite the damsel in distress. He just really ruins the whole thing for me. I’m giving this 4 stars though because the rest of the characters were great. The banter and constant bickering between Tal and our snarky elf, Aelyn was the best. I would like to see them be friendlier though. I seriously thought giving it 3 stars because of how much I dislike Garin but 🤷🏻‍♀️ I’m feeling a little generous.
279 reviews6 followers
June 15, 2020
Preface: I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

This novel was an interesting mix of unique and bland. It has the interesting notes of the wise old mentor being the main character, sort of (the series is named after him, after all). Tal's a fun character to follow. He's a legend, but weighed down by his deeds instead of lifted up by them. He has a lot of nuance to him. I also liked his elf "buddy" whose name I don't remember how to spell - he seems to be on the side of good, but he's certainly no cupcake. Very reminiscent of the mean magic brother in Dragonlance (forget his name, Mr. Hourglass Eyes).

The boy main character was a bit more typical - just your average farmboy wanting to become a hero, learning swordplay and reading/writing and playing around with powers beyond comprehension, that kinda thing. He was the least interesting part of the book, mostly because he's so run-of-the-mill, and ends up not being in control of himself for most of the climatic scenes.

There are a few twists and turns throughout the book, but overall the plot wasn't too much to write home about. Half the novel (or so it feels) is just the journey to get to the castle, and the other half is kinda dithering around trying to find the traitor within the walls. The reveal is predictable, though there is a good excuse for the traitor going from completely normal to mustache-twirling in a heartbeat once they're revealed. The climax was exciting enough, and had some tension (for me, at least) as to whether or not a minor character was going to survive.

There's clear set-up for the next book in the series, which does sound more intriguing, especially since there's apparently some more interesting history with Tal and the queen vs the king of this novel.

Overall, this is a pretty basic fantasy novel, but it does those basics well. If you're not expecting anything mind-blowing but want a different perspective than typical fantasy, this might hit the spot.
Profile Image for Yvonne (The Coycaterpillar Reads).
686 reviews214 followers
June 10, 2020
I’m honoured to be apart of the blog tour for A King’s Bargain organised by the lovely ladies at Storytellers on tour. They are passionate about Indie Fantasy and it shows in their hard work at putting these amazing tours together.

A King’s Bargain immediately gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling that I have so far only been awarded from very few Epic Fantasy stories. The world building was deep and complex and the introduction to the world was like falling through a portal and being immersed in the magical world first-hand. It is a fantastical piece of fiction that would be a perfect introduction to the immersive land of fantasy. The author has the perfect formula in his epic fantasy cauldron – a concise amount of characters, a vibrant world with endless possibilities and we were given the rare experience of having all the information at our fingertips…I didn’t feel that my questions were left unanswered. What I did have was a thirst for the next instalment, like yesterday!

It only takes a few pages to conclude on whether a book is going to be a good fit for the reader. Well, let me tell you – the author blew it clean out of the park. I was in rapt attention by the end of the first chapter. I was all in! immediately I was given the sense of impending anticipation, mystique and my head was strapped in and prepared for a hell of a ride!

We make our introductions in Hunts Hollow, a quaint little village with quaint characters to match. A King’s Bargain’s protagonist, Garin is a small villager boy that has dreams and aspirations beyond the small town. He wants more for his life; he wants to see what the big old world has to offer. He imagines the sights he could see, if only he had the means to get out there…Garin works on a mysterious man called Brannin Cairn’s chicken farm – who is also not particularly good at chicken farming! Life is extremely uneventful until the moment Bran is graced with a visit from a stranger. Just how do Bran and the stranger know each other’s acquaintance?

What I particularly loved about A King’s Bargain was the author’s ability to suck us in with its vivid realism. Despite the magic and ethereal feel to the narrative, you could imagine meeting these intriguing characters from all walks of life, and within life, serious shit happens but we are also afforded the beauty of life too – the landscapes, the celebration of love and life and we also have humorous tales thrown in. Life is rarely all black and white.

The interaction between this stranger and Bran becomes all-consuming for Garin – the talk quickly turns to magic! The visitor turns out to be Aelyn, who has brought the Kings command to bring Bran back to him. This is Garin’s biggest opportunity to see more of the world that he has dreamt about. Bran asks him to accompany him and Garin chews his hand off, albeit with the resulting guilt of leaving his family behind. The book leads us in a new direction, following Bran, Aelyn and Garin on their adventure to the Kingdom of Avendor. The path is littered with dangers – evil spirits and magical beings and I was in my element!

This book had absolutely everything that I love in Epic Fantasy. It was fast paced and totally captivating. The action kept emerging from the pages and slapping me around the face – my body was wrecked and shattered from the ride the author took me on. I was also overjoyed that the story included Elves – my favourite fantasy race! Their motivations and insights brought a heightened clarity to the overall story.

A King’s Bargain was fantastical. The political intrigue reminded me of A Song of Ice and Fire, but this book is more than capable of standing on its own two feet! It takes a sharp mind to pen a novel that is as ambitious as this and pull it off beyond all expectations. He didn’t choose the easy path and the trail of crumbs he left behind will leave behind a walking shadow. Make room for this on your shelves because it is a must read!
220 reviews67 followers
June 25, 2020
This started slowly for me, the author drops you right into the story after a small prologue using a zoom in technique, it sets the story up very nicely and establishes the situation. It shows the daily lives of some of the characters before an event upends this and the story can really begin. The beginning is done in this way to establish the character of Garin, the man he knows as Bran, and Aelyn, an Elven mage who is on an errand for the King.

This was a really good read once it got going, a page turner and Josiah has a nice, accessible writing style that eases you into the world he has created. This brings me to an important point, there was no info dump of world building. This is a major credit to Josiah, the world is built up as you read and this is why it is such an intriguing story.

There are quite a few characters who grace the pages but POV wise there are only two which are Garin and Tal himself, this focuses your attention on the experiences of these two. This is particularly well done in fight scenes when Josiah switches the perspective between the two, one experienced and inexperienced, one confident and one unsure. It added a real tension in the fight scenes that made them enjoyable and page turning. On the fight scene note, Josiah writes an enjoyable and exciting fight scene, the scene at the end is awesome, epic with the prose pulling you relentlessly on as the heroes fight against the odds.

One of the better aspects of the book was the magic system, and it was a hard one as well which are my favourites. A rules based magic system is always going to sit well with me, this is one is grounded and geared towards the situation you find yourself in, it forces the user to be mindful of what magic they use. It’s a cool system though because of the limitless nature of it and what you can do with it, it’s one reason I am excited for book 2.

Where the book really succeeds is the treatment of stories. Tal has been declared a hero by his King, songs are sung about him across the land, Tal is friends with a bard one Falcon Sunstring who writes these ballads and helps create a legend. As the reader will find out, stories are not always what they are and there is more to Tal’s story as the reader will find out. Josiah juggles this theme brilliantly, showing there is always more to someone or your heroes then you know. The story deals with the idea that not everyone is perfect, it’s fantastic to see a world with people who are less than perfect and I tip my hat to Josiah for writing his story like this, its refreshing.

Josiah presents an exciting story to the reader, to be sure it is an introduction to his world but it is great one. Some brilliant characters are waiting to meet you, a story where the hero is not always what he seems and a coming of age story all mixed in. This is classic sword and sorcery, mixed with epic fantasy and an intriguing world. This is why you should read A King’s Bargain: The Legend of Tal book 1, book 2 cannot come soon enough and I am glad I have a prologue story to read.
Profile Image for Shaz S S.
51 reviews1 follower
May 30, 2020
A fantastic Fantasy !!!

I wud like to thank author for providing me an early readers copy.

First of all, I really loved this book. 

Author has done a wonderful job. I am a person who loves Fantasy genre. And this novel was on point. It followed all the rules that makes a fantasy book a must read and a page turner both! 

Language was simple and easy which makes it a fast pace read. 

The King's Bargain is the first book in Legend of Tal duology

The story begins when a small town of Hunts Hollow recieves a peculiar visitor.
Garin is a small town boy with big dreams of exploring the world. He works in Brannen Cairn's chicken farm. But when this unknown visitor comes seeking his employer, Bran seems a changed man. Hearing and Looking at these two's conversation Garin is subjected to some unusual scenario as they are talking about Magic!!
Bran is not who he seems to be. The visitor Aelyn comes with a King's Command to take Bran with him. Garin gets a chance to fulfill his dream of discovering more of world. And when asked by Bran if he wud accompany him to The Kingdom of Avendor , he agrees to it.
And thus begins the adventurous journey of Bran, Garin and Aelyn. A journey filled with Magic, evil spirits, creatures of night and so on.

This book is filled with Elves, Goblins, Dwarves, Warlocks and humans, all living together. Our antagonist Yuldor is considered God by his followers and destructor by others.

Something fishy is going on in the King's court, for which King seeks help from Bran. And thus strikes the Kings Bargain. What is this King's Bargain, who is Bran, why is Garin involved in King's command? You gotta read n find it yourself.

The book is filled with secrets , clandestine past, magical creatures, illusions, mythical stories, politics, betrayal and magic.

Character portrayal is really done well. Apart from main characters, side characters too are portrayed well, which helps in maintaining our curiosity. There are lot of questions arising throughout the book, which it beautifully answers by the end of it. Its the mysteries that are hidden from us, that keep us hooked to the plot. There is lot of things going on in the story, along with excerpts from a centuries old book.

The ending is justified too. We dont encounter the main antagonist in this book, but only his puppets. That does peaks our interest. Also, what is the backstory of Aelyn and Garin is yet to be discovered. The perfect cliffhanger lays the foundation for the next book in the series: The Queen's Command.

If you love fantasy, then this book is for you. You will definitely enjoy reading the mysterious and legendary life of Tal Harrenfel.

The book was really amazing. I would really like to own a copy of it, once it releases.
Profile Image for Craig Bookwyrm.
85 reviews
February 6, 2023
A King's Bargain has all the feel of a classic fantasy, with nods to the greats of the genre, like Tolkien.
The author draws you in with his fluid prose, and the mysterious meeting of characters at the beginning of the book had me hooked immediately.

Part mystery, part coming of age, part redemption, we are taken on a journey with three characters initially. A boy who has befriended a chicken farmer with a history, leaves the only home he's known to join his mentor and a mysterious eleven mage, to journey to a city to assist the King with a mystery.

I can't say too much more, or risk spoiling the plot. The quest begins brilliantly with the world building developing along the way, with interesting magic and even more intriguing characters.
However, when our trio reach their destination, I found the pace of the story faltered slightly and the momentum that was building was lost somewhat for me.

There are some parts of the story, in the middle section, that didn't work so well for me, particularly with Garin (the boy) and his involvement with the King's troupers, which I found distracted me from parts of the story that I was most interested in. The last third, for me, did get back on track, with the pacing and character work that I enjoyed at the start of the book.

A King's Bargain is a solid start to a series that I intend to continue. The characters, particularly Tal, are far from black and white - the more shades of grey the better. The world building so far is great with a world and magic system that promises much more to explore.

Thank you for taking the time to read my review.
Profile Image for Julia Sarene.
1,259 reviews132 followers
August 29, 2022
A fast paced and fun classic fantasy romp.

Quite some tropes to be found in here, but I don't mind, as I really enjoy the naive boy and old warrior dynamic.

There's enough mysteries and twists to keep you glued to the pages, as well as magic, action, fighting and different races.

I love the mix of old style story with a more modern and fresh prose! A sort of quest, a group of people needing to travel together, a hidden past, betrayals and monsters. It git everything you want to find in the classics, while it doesn't feel stuffy or dated.

The characters were fine, and I especially enjoyed the banter throughout the story. However I'd have liked to see more than one female main character, who is also a love interest.
Here and there I'd have liked a little bit more depth to them as well. Especially the king and teh villain felt very much stereotypical cardboard cutouts.
I'm pretty sure this will come in later books!

As I already read Rangers of the Titan Wilds by the same author, I know he is very capable of writing great characters, male and female alike, so I'm really looking forward to the sequels of this going from "pretty darn good fun" to "really amazing"!
8 reviews
June 11, 2020
Awesome beginning of a new epic fantasy series.

When Tal Harenfal is commanded by the king to appear, little does he know the evil he will encounter. He, his apprentice Gavin and the grumpy elven mage Aelyn navigate through the court in search of an evil known as the Extinguished. Tal must live up to the stories told of him while protecting those he cares for. I really enjoyed this book especially the back and forth snarkiness between Tal the warrior and Aelyn the mage. I strongly recommend this book to lovers of well written epic fantasy.
485 reviews17 followers
June 12, 2020
I really enjoyed this first novel in the Legend of Tal series. The story is split between two perspectives: Garin, a boy on the cusp of manhood raised in a small village to be a farmer yearning for adventure, and Bran, a local farmer who takes an interest in and mentors Garin, but who also holds many secrets.

There is so much that I would like to say about this novel, but really can't without spoiling it. This novel works really well on a number of levels. On the surface, it's a pretty straightforward hero's journey, wherein a naive protagonist is exposed to more worldly matters - growth ensues. But it's also the story of a complex relationship between two very realistic characters and the mistakes they make with one another.

The basic elements of a story that I look for are all present and well executed: pacing is excellent, with ample but not intrusive description, the world-building is also excellent - it's a fairly standard medieval fantasy world incorporating myth and magic with some elements that I found to be fresh to capture my interest.

Where this novel really stood out to me was in the character building. While there was only one major female character, she was very strong-minded, fierce, bossy, and unapologetic. (I don't think I could stand to be her friend, but, my goodness, I wish I could be her). Owing to the lack of any other female presence, I can't tell whether Wren is the exception or the rule in her cultural milieu. (The lack of female presence - sans explanation - is my biggest critique of the story).

I really liked Garin and Bran as characters. Both were very realistic, had obvious flaws, and came across as utterly human and real. Their relationship was something that I found to be, likewise, very realistic, even in the way they both make mistakes with one another. I really liked the dynamic between them, and it just rang true that they had on blinders when it came to the other - to a certain degree. I think the way this relationship was portrayed was my favourite element of the story. (Men's relationships with one another - even in fiction - tend to feel shallow to me. I really appreciated that this one showed depth and change through the course of the story). I would also be remiss if I didn't mention Bran's smart mouth and how much joy that brought me.

There were several other characters that stood out to me and that I really appreciated, largely owing to the snarky exchanges with Bran. Several among these were scene-stealers, handled in such a way to reveal more about Bran than he necessarily would have wanted the reader to know. I thought these were very skillfully rendered as the characters obviously had strong backstories independent of their connection to Bran. I would like to know more about these!

There was one character who I felt was a bit short-changed, which was a pity as it was someone critical to the climax and denouement of the main events of the story. I don't know how the author could have handled the situation differently without compromising what we know of Bran, but I did feel a bit cheated by a reveal in the latter third of the novel, probably because I did see this coming, but didn't really feel the groundwork was there. (I guess there's no pleasing me).

I really liked that this novel is fairly clean - it was a really good story and stands on its own merits without an excess of gore, violence, and adult content. I found this to be a highly enjoyable read and I'm very much looking forward to continuing on in the series.

I received an ARC via the author.
Profile Image for Abel Montero.
Author 13 books104 followers
December 2, 2020
This book totally caught me off guard, in the best way possible.
I have to be honest, it was totally a cover buy (I mean, the artwork by René Aigner is STUNNING), and I started reading it with reasonably low/optimistic expectations. It was my first experience with Rosell, and the more I grow old, the more my reading tastes get specific and complicated.
The synopsis was interesting, and the few pages of Kindle preview enough entertaining to push me buying the whole thing (I get the kindle edition first, but i got the paperback after a bit because of that lovely cover 🤣).

The book started pretty familiar, mixing tropes and characters we may have heard in many, many books, but excellent pacing and witty dialogues kept me on board. It was nice, and I felt I had found the simple, easy reading i was searching for.
And the in happened.
I zoned out from realty and finished the book without even realizing it (it has to be said it is indeed a short read compared to many other recent epics).
I'm not a particularly fast reader, actually I'm pretty slow, so it was a nice surprise to inhale the whole thing so fast.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around it, but i think it's because of the two main characters: Tal and Garin.
Tal is a living legend, but struggles to cope with the reality behind songs and ballads about his past. He is strong, smart, has that self aware personalty of someone who knows his ability to snake charm whomever he wishes. At the same time, he's been through some deeeeep poooop, so he's far from a light hearted person.
By contrast, Garin is young, ignorant and bright eyed, but has a big heart and he doesn't has much of an ego.

I have to say, it was refreshing to read about two unquestionably GOOD persons being at center stage in a fantasy epic (I can't stand the current vogue of GRITTY/BLOODY/DARK/MOODY/THEWORLSUKSSOFANTASYBOOKSBETTERMAKEYOUFEELMISERABLETOO)

Yes, Tal has a dark past, but struggles to do what's right and his relationship with Garin was so wholeheartedly good it made me smile and feel hope, more often than not.

All and all, I deeply enjoyed it.
A King's Bargain has all i needed: witty dialogues, compelling characters, a couple of well placed plot twists and good battles.

And that ending.
That cruel, backstabbing ending.
I need book 2.
Profile Image for Barbara.
2,317 reviews28 followers
June 6, 2020
Allow three days for this PG13 coming-of-age involving 15-year-old Garin, the aged chicken farmer Bran. and the stranger who shows up in Hunt's Hollow. I had an ARC and this voluntary review is my own opinion.
Profile Image for Mary White.
22 reviews1 follower
June 28, 2021

My first exposure to fantasy was, of course, Tolkien.
Mr. Rowell can, and should, stand shoulder to shoulder with Tolkien.
Brilliantly written, painstakingly crafted, story telling at its finest.
Thank you, sir, for a wonderful story.
Profile Image for Manon.
1,464 reviews25 followers
October 6, 2020
I was blown away by this epic fantasy novel. The beginning gave me all fhe Name of the Wind vibes, but as the story rolled out, I suddenly got these Witcher vibes, and I couldn't get enough of this book! There's just enough of everything, and together it makes for a great mixture. Can highly recommend!
Profile Image for Derrick Smythe.
Author 5 books75 followers
June 2, 2021
I listened to the audiobook and found both the story and narration to be equally engaging, as if they were meant for each other. The story moved really well, helped along by great action, quippy dialogue, and some really skillful prose that captured the surroundings without taking the reader out of the story. Something about "A King's Bargain" reminded me of Patrick Rothfuss' "Name of the Wind", but if it was faster and less depressing. This is not a dig at Rothfuss, whose work I enjoy greatly. This is a compliment to Rosell. I plan to continue on with this series, which is good since the audio is a two-book bundle and I've already started the second book!
Profile Image for Leslie.
3 reviews2 followers
February 20, 2022
This is the sort of classic fantasy I’ve been missing. I really enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Katie P..
92 reviews4 followers
June 22, 2020
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From the outset, this book is an intriguing and imaginative high fantasy! Filled with wonderful prose, excellent worldbuilding, and loveably flawed characters. A King's Bargain is an epic hero's journey entwined with a coming-of-age plotline that works on all the levels!

From Hunt's Hollow to Halenhal and all of the places in between, this world is great! There is an incredible amount of worldbuilding in the first few chapters of this book, but it isn't completely exposition. Much of it is either gleaned through Garin's conversations with Bran on the road or from quiet discussions between Bran and our loveable mage, Aelyn. It is very hard to write complicated political systems, particularly those in a fantasy realm, but the author absolutely gets it right in this book!

Garin is a wonderfully headstrong and intelligent young man who decides to leave home, but has no idea what he is in for! We've got Bran, a mysterious chicken farmer with a secret, who sets out on an initial journey to Halenhal hoping to keep his past a secret. Aelyn the grumpy elven mage is possibly my favorite for all of his no-nonsense behaviors. A few more characters are encountered along the way, including Falcon, a hilarious bard with a big personality, and Wren, a determined individual who follows a similar path as Garin in wanting to make a name for herself.

A tantalizing mystery awaits the weary travelers once they reach Halenhal and the Coral Castle. From here, the plot picks up quite quickly and doesn't relent until the end of the novel. This book has all of the elements of high fantasy that I love, including mages, myth, magic, adventuring, great and legendary foes, vicious beasts, sacrifice, fellowship, and so much more! The action scenes are well-written, combining magic, swordplay, banter, and immediate danger for a fantastic concoction of fast-paced fighting!

Author J.D.L. Rosell is an imaginative and skillful writer! A King's Bargain is a sweeping epic fantasy with a lot of promise for the next book! Overall, I absolutely enjoyed this book and would pick up another by Rosell in a heartbeat! This book combines excellent elements of high fantasy with well-crafted writing to bring the reader into a world filled with magic, mystery, and danger!

This is a great book for fans of The Witcher, Elder Scrolls, Lord of the Rings, all the RPG games, and any other lovers of epic fantasy stories!

Thank you to J.D.L. Rosell and Storyteller's on Tour for the opportunity to read and review this book! This review is my honest opinion and I was provided a no-cost copy of this book.
509 reviews7 followers
June 9, 2020
Great fantasy book. It kept me turning the page. I loved the characters and the magical world beyond Hunt's Hollow. Tal is a man with many faults, regrets, and a checkered past. Garin is a young man wishing for adventure. They say you should be careful what you wish for and Garin will find out why. There is lots of intrigue and excitement in this first book. I hated to put it down or for it to end. It is not a cliff hanger, but there definitely will be more adventures. Can't wait for the next one!

I received this book as an ARC and wished to leave a review.
Profile Image for Dawn.
1,150 reviews44 followers
June 3, 2020
"A King's Bargain" is full of interesting characters that are very well-developed. The story itself is entertaining and enjoyable. The writing is of a high standard. Everything comes together to make for a fantasy novel that stands up with the rest. I enjoyed it a lot.

My thanks to the author and Hidden Gems for a free copy to review. This review is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
Profile Image for bella.
77 reviews
June 10, 2020
I really, really, really, REALLY enjoyed this book. I love the characters, and how animated they are! on the rare occasion I’d look up from the page, it would take me a moment to realize I wasn't actually in their world. The writing was incredibly immersive, I got lost in the fun moments, and the anxiety-filled ones. If you have the chance, PLEASE pick this up, it genuinely is such an amazing story. I’ll definitely be reading the next book!
Profile Image for Gracie.
146 reviews1 follower
May 26, 2022
It was ok.... SUPER influenced by LOTR. Like when I say SUPER influenced by it I mean, it's like the he read LOTR and got inspired to write a story of his own but didn't have an original idea of his own so he just used LOTR as an outline..... I mean it didn't follow all of the details but from the beginning to the end it was very hard for me to not thing LOTR every chapter..... It also had a bit of HP in with it too...... but it's fantasy so I guess some stories are going to look similar but it just kinda felt like a copycat..... I probably will not continue the series.....
423 reviews5 followers
June 2, 2020
Heroes sometimes have regrets!

Tal Harrenfel is a hero, so declared by his king. Men fear him. He has his own fears, regrets, and secrets. He is so tired of the killing, but what else can he do?

Follow him on a bloody quest as he sets out once again.

More to follow.

I received a free ARC.
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