Too Many Side-Quests, Not Enough Epic: The Splinter King by Mike Brooks

Posted 17th July 2021 by Siavahda in Fantasy Reviews, Queer Lit, Reviews / 0 Comments

The Splinter King (The God-King Chronicles, #2) by Mike Brooks
Genres: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Gay MC, Nonbinary MCs, queernorm cultures, M/M or mlm, NB/NB
Published on: 15th July 2021
Goodreads
three-stars

THE WORLD FRACTURES AS A DEAD GOD RISES . . .

Darel, dragon knight and the new leader of Black Keep, must travel to the palace of the God-King to beg for the lives of his people. But in the capital of Narida, Marin and his warrior husband will be drawn into a palace coup, and Princess Tila will resort to murder to keep her hold on power.

In the far reaches of the kingdom an heir in exile is hunted by assassins, rumours of a rival God-King abound, and daemonic forces from across the seas draw ever nearer...

A saga of truly epic proportions, The Splinter King is the captivating sequel to Mike Brooks' The Black Coast. A spectacular adventure featuring a large cast of dragon riders, royalty, knights and deities, this new series is an unmissable treat for any fantasy reader.

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Highlights

~excuse me sir, those are not dragons they are dinosaurs
~‘cease this foolishness and die quietly’ is a Vibe
~a society that meets in secret is a secret society, Marin
~don’t fight ‘well’, fight smart
~libraries are sexy

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from The Splinter King after the ending of book one, The Black Coast (and if you haven’t read Black Coast, please proceed no further, because spoilers!) Now that I’m finished, I’m in two minds about it.

I loved a lot of things about Black Coast (as you can see from my review), but the worldbuilding was definitely the winner for me: if you’ve been following this blog at all, it should be clear to you by now that there is no faster way to win my heart than by presenting me with truly excellent worldbuilding. Bonus points if it’s queer. And the God-King Chronicles gets those bonus points.

But The Splinter King is the second book in a series – in a trilogy, actually, according to one interview Brooks gave – which means I’m already familiar with the worldbuilding (bar some new, small bits and pieces introduced here and there). So it had to give me something else to make me love it.

…And it didn’t, really.

It’s a very readable book; I ended up reading about 70% of it in two days. The prose is perfectly pleasant and I liked most of the cast. But for the most part, it kind of felt like nothing really happened. Which is strange, because actually, too much was happening. Where most of the POVs of book one interacted with at least a few of the others – Sanna and Damien and Zhanna were all in Blackcreek, for example – here, they all got spread out. The result felt like every character had their own side-quest – most of which weren’t very interesting and weren’t really all that important to the story – and the book was completely lacking a central plot.

I’m used to books with lots of POVs; I didn’t have a problem following where everyone was and what they were doing. But I was…kind of bored. I kept waiting for the action to start, and it didn’t. When we did get an intense moment, it was immediately cut off by an edge-of-your-seat cliffhanger…and then there were three or four very bland chapters from other POVs, which meant that by the time we got back to the high-tension moment…the tension was gone.

When I finished The Splinter King earlier today, I was left thinking ‘what was the point?’ For the most part, the book felt very much like filler or padding. Quite a few of the different plotlines ended on impressive cliffhangers again at the end, and that was as exciting or interesting as they’ve been for the whole book. It reminds me of the show Supernatural, which I used to love but stopped watching long before it finally ended; they used to have pretty epic cliffhangers at the end of every season as well – and then the first episode of the next season was always a complete let-down.

Ultimately, I wanted to love this so badly – and I just didn’t. Even the enormous, huge, world-changing revelation-scene at the very end ended up being so completely underwhelming. The Splinter King never gave me goosebumps, never made the hairs on my arms stand up, never gave me those electric shivers you get when a line just resounds inside you. The worldbuilding is impressive, but wasn’t expanded upon enough from what we saw in book one to be interesting for its own sake. And every time I had an omg!!! moment, the book effectively punished me for it by then drowning me in chapter after chapter of stuff I could not care less about, so what should have been a roar turned into a whimper instead.

All of that said? I did enjoy the reading experience; I appreciate how easy it was to just keep turning the pages, and I do want to give points for the handful of very cool moments that we got (‘cease this foolishness and die quietly’ is a line I will not soon forget). That’s why I’m rating this as high as I am. But I’m no longer at all sure I’m going to be picking up the next book in the series.

three-stars

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