ARC provided by the publisher—Saga Press—in exchange for an honest review.
The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Series: The Legacy of the Mercenary King (Book #1 of 3)
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Mystery
Pages: 608 pages (US hardcover edition)
Published: 7th May 2020 by Gollancz (UK) & 5th May 2020 by Saga Press (US)
Kingdom of Liars was one of the most hyped up debuts in 2020, and I believe it’s partly due to Sanderson’s blurb. It is a commendable debut, but while I’m not disputing what Sanderson said about this book, the enjoyment I derived from reading it was a whole lot more mixed than his blurb would suggest.
I’m not going to describe the book’s plot as the synopsis was comprehensive enough without revealing too much. The balance of plot and characterisation was done quite well for a debut. However, it did take me almost half of the book before I felt fully engaged. This is partly because Michael Kingman, the main protagonist, was quite an aggravating character. As much as I sympathised with his plight – admittedly what happened to him and his family following his father’s execution as murderer and traitor was horrible – he came across a whiny brat who was the architect of his own problems through his many stupid decisions. Fortunately, his characterisation did not stay this way throughout the entire book. Michael’s development and his investigation into what really happened on the night of his father’s downfall kept the story quite compelling till the very end.
At the end of the day though, I still wasn’t as invested in Michael’s story as I hoped to be. I found most of the characters to either be not that likeable nor memorable. The title of the book was also very appropriate because it was so hard to tell who was telling the truth. Then there was the promising worldbuilding that felt a tad half-baked at this point in time. The shattered moon and memory being the price of using magic were all fascinating ideas but not explored as much as I would like it to be. I supposed that it was fair for the author to prefer to keep the focus on Michael’s character development given that this is not a stand-alone and the worldbuilding could be expanded in the later books. I do have doubts that I will continue with this series as the plot was adequately wrapped up in Kingdom of Liars, and I’m not sufficiently attached to the characters. All that said, this book could work (and I’ve seen that it did) for other readers who may not feel as I did for the characters.