Kalanon’s Rising was one of the finalists of SPFBO 2019, and the premise of magical murders mystery caught my eye.
What to expect
The murder of the king’s nephew (and presumptive heir) is guaranteed to draw attention. The King’s Champion, a current physician and previous war leader, is tasked with finding the murderer and resolving what promises to be a highly political crime.
Together with a few unlikely helpers, Sir Brannon must navigate a world where mages draw on spirits from other worlds and animate the dead, where everyone has secrets and a single mistake would see the spark of a war that would tear his country apart.
What I liked
Smith gives us a fast moving plot and an interesting magic system. I enjoyed Brannon working to solve the murder, with the occasional detour to other points of view. I enjoyed learning about the world and its interesting mechanics.
What to be aware of
One of the most immediate things I noticed was the language. To me, it felt too modern for a non-contemporary setting. That also applies to some of the concepts that the characters bandy about, which seem anachronistic. Still, this would likely appeal to any fans of the CSI shows.
Felix found the mystery part a bit predictable, without any major twists. He also had some questions about the interactions and choices of a few of the characters: he’ll fully stand behind the intrigue and scheming, but found those on a personal level of some of the side characters stretching his credulity.
It’s an interesting work, with a lot of promise. Though I feel it could have been much more, that could be down to personal tastes. I’d recommend it if you like epic-ish fantasy adventures and crime shows.