We have all heard that knowledge is power. But few have ever known it, or demonstrated it, as well as Thomas. An orphan, and in effect little better than a slave, yet he has power. He has a rare ability, the ability to read. Rarer yet, he has books to read.
Rarest of all is the sort of books he has. With these books, he could conquer kingdoms. For these books, others would conquer kingdoms. And they would do anything they had to, to get them from Thomas.
The Orphan King is the first book of the Merlin’s Immortals series, written by Sigmund Brouwer. It is set in England, in the year 1312, and surrounded by the facts of the day – from the name of the king to hunger to the brown charity cloth of monks. This historical structure, together with the scholarly and even scientific nature of Thomas’ power, gives the book more realism than fantasy usually enjoys.
The characters are nicely done – from the loathsome Geoffrey to the world-tested knight to the irrepressible Tiny John. Thomas, as is common for royalty and especially protagonists in fairy tales, is not as vivid as his supporting cast, yet he still stands as a good character. His attempt to buy horses, and the knight’s intervention, was a fine moment for both of them.
Sigmund Brouwer proved adept at evoking both people and places. But he had, as a writer, a habit of explaining things – either in dialogue or in the narration – where, and sometimes when, he ought not to have. Some explanations could have been demonstrated through the story; others were not needed at all. Readers did not need, for example, Thomas’ thoughtlessness in asking after Isabelle to Katherine pointed out so thoroughly.
The Orphan King is a story of mystery more than magic, of deception and doubt more than action. The novel raises many questions and leaves the most interesting unanswered. And though it takes place seven centuries ago, the story seems to look back to things that were ancient even then. The pieces are intriguing to any fantasy reader – Merlin, and an old fortress thick with secrets, and Druids, and Immortals. If you care to put them together, pick up The Orphan King and begin.
And now, for the intrigued, we have links:
The Orphan King on Amazon;
Fortress of Mist (second book of Merlin’s Immortals) on Amazon;
and Sigmund Brouwer’s website; he has, by the way, a perfect name for an author. Just hearing it, you can imagine it on a book cover.
Finally, and most enlightening, we have the tour links:
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller