Lukasz's Reviews > Kings of Paradise

Kings of Paradise by Richard Nell
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it was amazing
bookshelves: self-published, spfbo2018

Making me read a large, weighty book that counts more than six hundred pages is almost impossible. Even bribery doesn't work. And yet I reached for Kings of Paradise and couldn't put it down.

It's brilliant. It's, undoubtedly, one of the best books I read this year*. The hype is real and high scores are well deserved.

Kings of Paradise is a dark and gritty coming-of-age story that follows multiple characters. Some of them are secondary and their chapters, while making the narrative more colourful, serve mainly to show three main characters through the eyes of others.

Ruka is a beast. He's a deformed, twisted genius with an eidetic memory and bright, golden eyes of a wolf. He's a ruthless killer who won't hesitate to maim others or eat them when the food is in short supply.

All of us experienced existential isolation before. The feeling that no other human being can comprehend who you truly are, no matter how close you become. Sure, it's depressing, but it's an experience that binds us all. Ruka, though, is alone in a way no other fantasy protagonist is.

Born in the frozen, snow-covered wasteland of the Ascom—the land of ash—Ruka was spared from death at birth by his mother’s love. His childhood was cruel, he's lost everything he loved, and all he has left is a desire for vengeance. He struggles with psychological demons, and at times he behaves as a borderline schizo. And yet, he's one of the most complex and interesting characters I've ever met. In fact, he wants a better world, and he's ready to burn and break our wicked world to change the things.

I want a world where love is not a crime, where children are not doomed to misery because they are different. I want only laws with mercy, and justice, and wisdom.


I had goosebumps while reading the scene in which he said these words.

Kale is a fourth son of the king Farahi. He's a good, innocent and likeable protagonist. He has a high drive to be something, or do something, but he doesn't know what. He believes in people, looks for what's best for them and tries to make the world a better place.

Unfortunately, his father, King Farahi is a cunning paranoid and Kale's life will soon become very dangerous and complicated. On the other hand, Kale may have some supernatural skills that come handy when he's in danger. I don't want to spoil it for you, but I loved Kale's Monastery trials and their unexpected consequences. Suffice to say, that he plays with the powers that can alter the very fabric of the world. I was literally glued to my Kindle when these powers were demonstrated**.

Then, there's Dala. She's an intriguing heroine who goes through hell in her youth. When she joins a religious order, she hopes to make the world a better place. She isn't prepared for the godless, power-hungry people and their cold politics. But she learns fast, and to make a change, she's ready to stir a revolution and drown the streets in blood. I'm definitely interested in more of her story, and I believe my curiosity will be satisfied in sequels.

Secondary characters were all done exceptionally well. They all have distinct traits and voices. Every single one of them. It takes some serious skills to make a reader feel this kind of visceral connection and, sometimes, dislike towards fictional characters, and Nell does it flawlessly. Damn impressive.

I find king Farahi fascinating - while he's not a caring parent role-model, his cold and cunning mind is impressive. Asna Fetlan Isha Fetnal is a killer, but his inner monologues, carefree attitude, and sarcastic remarks were humorous and made me crack a bit in the end. The scene was far from funny mind you, but Asna's voice was hilarious.

My favourite thing about Kings of Paradise was the amount of development the characters get and evolving relationships between them and their entourage. It's a surprisingly deep and layered story that pulls no punches. Despite things getting messy and gory, I never felt the violence served to shock the reader. Actually, it's the opposite - even the grittiest scenes helped the plot or character evolution.

There's no single villain in the story; the conflict is centred around protagonists' beliefs and dreams colliding with the corrupted world and petty, power-hungry leaders playing politics. It was especially evident in religious orders pictured in Dala and Kale's storylines in which scholars, priests, and priestesses were sullying the sacred teachings with very mortal aims.

It won't be a surprise to anyone, but I loved the hell out of Kings of Paradise. It's not a joyous book - at times it's tragic and sad, and Ruka's story alone can make you reach for Prozac. It is, however, intelligently written and powerful book with stellar world-building and a fantastic cast of characters. The ending of Kings of Paradise can lead to numerous explosive developments.

* Which would mean little if I read, say, five mediocre books. This is not the case, though. So far I've read 102 books, and many of them were excellent.
** A side-effect of my lifelong love for comic books and Marvel heroes
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Reading Progress

June 3, 2018 – Started Reading
June 3, 2018 – Shelved
June 3, 2018 –
5.0%
June 3, 2018 –
26.0% "Bloody brilliant. Ruka is ruthless but I can't help it - I like him most."
June 4, 2018 –
31.0% "Wow. So well written. Having full time work sucks. I'll have to wait another few hours to continue reading."
June 4, 2018 –
51.0% "WOW - Dala wants to do good, but her tools are, well, she may've caused more bloodshed than Ruka."
June 4, 2018 –
63.0% "I wouldn't mind learning Ching."
June 5, 2018 –
78.0%
June 5, 2018 –
88.0% "Wow. Just wow."
June 6, 2018 – Finished Reading
June 14, 2018 – Shelved as: self-published
November 10, 2018 – Shelved as: spfbo2018

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)

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Adam Awesome review. I'm happy you decided to take the plunge. These characters are still haunting me. I've read perhaps 30 books since KoP, but these characters remain the most memorable and lifelike in my head more than any of those other stories. It's just so damn good. I can't imagine it not being a finalist in the SPFBO.


Lukasz Yes. It's simply incredible. And it's rare to find characters with whom I connect so easily.


Jessica Oh man this book gave me goosebumps so many times! Ruka and Dala had some awe inspiring lines for sure. Great review!


message 4: by Jon (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jon Adams Excellent review...and I wholeheartedly agree.


Lukasz Thanks for the kind words. Yes, it was a great book.


message 6: by Richard (new) - added it

Richard Nell Thanks so much for taking the time Lukasz, very pleased you enjoyed it. I also feel like my small collection of sexy cheerleaders clobbered you into reading it. So in case any of you read this, you win at fandom.


Jennifer (bunnyreads) Yes! I knew this would be one you would like! Great review. As a side note- one of the things I loved about King Farahi, when we first see him it's mostly though Kale and his so-hard-done-by teenager perspective, but later we had these moments where we could see the difficult position Farahi was in as a father and a king. Even though I still thought he was an ass, I loved that we got that sort thing with him.


Lukasz Richard wrote: "Thanks so much for taking the time Lukasz, very pleased you enjoyed it. I also feel like my small collection of sexy cheerleaders clobbered you into reading it. So in case any of you read this, you..."


Yes, they helped. And I'm glad they have :) I need more Ruka in my life. Just not the real one. Kale is great as well and I can't wait to see what becomes of Dala. Well done.


Lukasz Jennifer wrote: "Yes! I knew this would be one you would like! Great review. As a side note- one of the things I loved about King Farahi, when we first see him it's mostly though Kale and his so-hard-done-by teenag..."

Yes, I think Farahi is a great character. And you were right. I love this book.


message 10: by Timy (new) - added it

Timy Well, it's official, you people got me hooked sooo I'll make sure to put this in my reading shedule for August.


Jessica Timy wrote: "Well, it's official, you people got me hooked sooo I'll make sure to put this in my reading shedule for August."

Do it! Such a fun book, definitely one of the best books I've read so far this year.


Michael Baker Just had time to read this review. Great stuff Lukas, just finished Kings last night. It's probably my book of 2018.


Lukasz Thanks and I agree. It's amazing how such a long book can be so compulsively readable.


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