The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell was a superb fantasy debut that I had my attention from start to finish. Each time I flicked through a page, I just kept on going and everything around me didn’t matter because this book had me in a bookish headlock that I didn’t want to get out of 😂. This was highly aided by the combination of fantasy and mystery. At no point did I know what was going to happen which was so refreshing!
The story begins with the main character of Michael Kingman on trial for the murder of the King of Hollow. When he was but a young child, Michael’s father was executed for the murder of the Kings son, Davey Hollow. Michael’s father and the Kingman lineage were once a renowned family and protectors of Hollow and the royals.
However, once Michael’s father was executed, the Kingman family name and legacy crumbled like a digestive biscuit between your fingers. They soon become the most hated in Hollow and even Michael and his siblings Gwen and Lyon were branded traitors and their family name no longer had the power and respect they once held.Now grown, Michael is bitter and has nothing but hate for his father and to a certain extent is going backwards in life doing dodgey jobs and causing fights. But this doesn’t stop him from trying to clear his families name and get to the bottom of what exactly made his father kill the Kings son.
Thus, we go backwards as Michael explains how he got himself into his current situation, his journey in clearing his father name and in turn attempting to restore the Kingman legacy. In the process of looking back into the past, Michael’s aim is to unlock memories that have been hidden for years and essentially make people remember that the Kingman family are not traitors.
So in terms of the main character of Michael Kingman, at first I did think “wow what an absolute bellend”. He was both reckless and impulse with no care as to whether his actions caused harm to those around him. But as he begins to understand the complexity of his famillies history and the danger of stepping on the wrong necks, Michael soon matures and realises how his rashness could make the stakes even higher for him and the those he cares for.I also felt there were a lot of great side characters within this story.
Nick Martell did well in having a wide range of characters who all had a unique purpose to the narrative. They were all very interesting and had different motives and backgrounds which kept things fresh.I would say some of my favourites were people I hated lol. For one there was Charles Domet. I didn’t like him but I just loved how sneaky he was! On the outside he appears a heavy alcoholic but on the inside he was so sly and was always somehow three steps ahead of what was happening.
Then there was the Corrupt Prince who was the main villain so to speak and an entitled piece of shit who used his power to grind Michael down and basically used his privilege of being the Kings son to be a dick with everyone else. So for me if an author can make me despise a villain then they are definitely on the right track 🤣Anyway, enough of the haters.
There were many characters who I really liked for simply being likable, such as Eli a blind noble who soon becomes a friend of Michael’s. I also liked Gwen, Michael’s sister who looks after their mother in an asylum due to her memory being wiped away. Gwen comes across as someone who is really kind and is trying her best to make sure her brother doesn’t get himself killed.I also felt the world building was good but I am hoping there is more to explore in the next book. Like i found it interesting that bits of the moon known as “Creole” are falling off. Again surprise surprise the Kingman family are being blamed for this lol. Also from my understanding, Hollow is definitely much more volatile than before.
The Kingman family once used to quench wars and put them to a stop before they got out of hand.However, now with no Kingmen around and the Royals not doing a good job in keeping the public happy, instability is rising with different mercenery companies at large and the city of Hollow is a increasingly becoming dangerous as war between nobles and mercs looms.
The icing on the cake though for me was the magic system, also known as Fabrications. This pretty much reminded me of my favourite anime, Full Metal Alchemist.Basically there are those individuals who have inherited unique powers and can control elements such as light, darkness, fire, electricity and metal! These powers however come with consequence and can’t be played around with willy nilly. If people with Fabrications use their powers too much there is a chance their memory will be wiped away slowly. I thought this was a very unique concept compared to other magic systems I’ve come across. It gives you the sense that with great power comes great responsibility (I had to leave me alone).But yeah, obviously I know memories are important but this book really makes you realise how lost you’d be without your key memories. Especially when the stakes are high.So overall, a fantastic debut in my eyes and definitely one I would recommend for the plot, characters and magic system. The ending was also one of the best endings I’ve come across in a while. Like I shit you not I was soooo hyped and I’m honestly so excited for book two!
One thing though for the sake of being picky, i really do hope we learn more about the world of Hollow in the next book and maybe even beyond Hollow. Merely because I really want to know more about it’s past and I feel there’s still so much to left to explore 😊Thank you to Will and Gollancz for sending me an early copy. The book will be released on the 7th of May this year✊🏽